If you are heading off to New Zealand, the vast bulk of the flights depart from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. This is particularly the case with Qantas. With the exception of their seasonal Perth – Auckland services, Qantas funnells all their trans Tasman passengers through Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.
Jetstar uses the Gold Coast Airport rather than Brisbane for its Queensland passengers. Virgin Australia flies out of both Brisbane and the Gold Coast across the Tasman. Virgin Australia also has a rather quirky thrice weekly return service from Newcastle across to Auckland over the summer.
But that’s it. It is very east coast centric. In fact it is very south east coast centric.
Air New Zealand has things covered
The standout best performer in terms of capacity and routes between Australia and New Zealand is Air New Zealand. They have more flights and fly to more destinations. That’s not a plug for AirNZ, it’s a simple fact.
From Melbourne you can fly direct to Queenstown, Christchurch, Wellington or Auckland. From Sydney you can fly to Christchurch, Wellington or Auckland. From Brisbane you can fly to Auckland or Christchurch. This isn’t so different from what Qantas offers. Indeed, Qantas also offers a direct Sydney – Queenstown flight. But Air New Zealand does put more capacity on these primary routes and also offers more wide bodied jets between Auckland and Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne.
And away from the big east coast cities?
But it’s when you step away from the Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne nexus that Air New Zealand shines with its Australian services.
They already fly five or six days a week between Auckland and the Gold Coast. This is going to a permanent daily service in late March 2020. It runs a seasonal service between Auckland and the Sunshine Coast four times a week and has just extended this through to June 2020. It also flies two or three times a week between Auckland and Cairns across the northern dry season. Now these flights into Queensland are leisure routes using single aisle all economy class Airbuses. They are nothing fancy. But it’s all about access and capacity.
Air New Zealand is also the only airline to fly direct between Auckland and Adelaide with four flights a week using 787-9 Dreamliners. It’s a canny move by Air New Zealand because Adelaide locals are happy to hop on Air NZ’s comfortable wide bodies and transit through Auckland on their way across the Pacific, skipping the dreaded Sydney transit.
It’s a similar deal for Perth residents. Air New Zealand offers a daily Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner service between Perth and Auckland with handy onward connections.
So that’s it. Air New Zealand offers far better service between Australia and New Zealand than any of the Australian carriers.
There are no direct services between New Zealand and Hobart, Canberra or Darwin. Hobart lost its Air New Zealand service 25 years ago. With new owners and an eye on potential international flights, Hobart Airport would be happy to have the airline back.
This post was born out of an initial post that was going to be about missing routes between Australia and New Zealand. But that post was going nowhere and it segued into the Air New Zealand boost. But for interest’s sake, here’s a list put together by OAG Traffic Analyser concerning the top ten unserviced routes between Australia and New Zealand and their indirect annual passenger numbers last year.
|Route||Indirect passengers (2018)|
|Adelaide – Christchurch||31,000|
|Cairns – Christchurch||24,000|
|Sydney – Dunedin||24,000|
|Perth – Wellington||22,000|
|Melbourne – Napier||19,000|
|Canberra – Auckland||19,000|
|Adelaide – Wellington||18,000|
|Hobart – Auckland||18,000|
|Melbourne – Dunedin||17,000|
|Brisbane – Napier||17,000|
What to draw from this table? The passenger numbers don’t support the case for flights operating these routes. While the trend worldwide is towards direct point to point flights, in this case, funnelling passengers through the bigger Australian east coast airports does makes economic and practical sense. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.