Christchurch International Airport (CIAL) Chief Executive Jim Boult has said he understands the reasoning behind Air New Zealand’s decision to cancel or reschedule some of its trans-Tasman and domestic flights in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake.
Twenty seven trans-Tasman flights have been cancelled between Christchurch and Sydney, Christchurch and Melbourne, and Christchurch and Coolangatta for several weeks from April to July 2011.
“While it’s disappointing to lose any services, we fully understand the position the airline is in,” said Jim Boult. “The airline is also rescheduling many of the remaining trans-Tasman flights to Christchurch which previously arrived in the late evening to now arrive in daylight hours. We welcome this move as it will be helpful for passengers wanting to transit to other centres and find accommodation outside Christchurch.”
Over the next three months, seventy three flights between Sydney and Christchurch will have new departure and arrival times, as well as 54 flights from Brisbane and 62 flights from Melbourne.
“While Christchurch Airport is fully functional, the central city is just beginning its rebuilding work, and the accommodation capacity of the city has been seriously impacted,” said Jim Boult. “However, there are still 6000 hotel and motel beds in Christchurch, and that number will only grow in the coming months.”
“Our focus remains on aeronautical business,” he stated. “We still want to grow the services into Christchurch and to retain all the flights we have.”
Christchurch Airport is currently working with the tourism industry to develop a new strategy to ensure tourists continue to fly in and out of Christchurch Airport to travel in the South Island. The strategy includes having a central bank of available rooms in Christchurch, as well as transporting travellers to other centres to be accommodated.