Air New Zealand’s Auckland capacity to rise by 4.3%, with 12.13 million passengers projected for 2018; Chicago and Taipei launching soon
Inhabited by an estimated population of 1.6 million people, based on recent research conducted by Statistics New Zealand, Auckland is home to 35% of the country’s total population. With that, it is not surprising that New Zealand’s national carrier, Air New Zealand, has its main base at Auckland Airport. Before going into more detail about the airline’s operation from Auckland, it should be noted that during H1 2018, the carrier (including subsidiaries) flew just under 8.44 million passengers, up 7.2% on the same period of 2017 based on figures published by the Air New Zealand Group. This growth rate has advanced from the 6.3% change reported between H1 2017 and H1 2016. In total last year the carrier transported 16.40 million people, up 5.9% on the total of 15.49 million that flew with the Star Alliance member in 2016.
In 2018 Air New Zealand will offer 21.21 million seats, with 69% of these being flown on routes to/from Auckland. If a similar share is taken of the total passengers flown, and by estimating that the group will transport 17.58 million passengers in 2018 if a 7.2% growth rate is maintained in H2, the carrier should fly around 12.13 million people from the nation’s largest city this year. Given that the airline will offer 14.66 million seats from Auckland (more detail below), it would give the carrier an average theoretical load factor from its largest base of around 83%, matching the average load factor reported for the company during the first six months of the year. Overall the airline has a 58% market share of all departing seats from Auckland this year, up one percentage point when compared to 2017.
Seat capacity to grow by 4.3% in 2018
This year, Air New Zealand is projecting a 4.3% rise in seat capacity from Auckland, with 14.66 million two-way seats scheduled to be flown. Of the carrier’s capacity, 81% is flown using mainline aircraft, a share which has fluctuated between 79% and 82% during the period analysed, highlighting that jet operations and regional aircraft services within the Air New Zealand Group are expanding from the nation’s biggest city at similar rates. Carriers which operate as subsidiaries for Air New Zealand are Air Nelson and Mount Cook Airlines, while Eagle Airways, a Beech 1900 operator, ended services in 2016.
Of Air New Zealand’s capacity from Auckland, 59% is flown on domestic services, with the rest operating international links. Of all domestic services, totalling 4.32 million departing seats in 2017, 68% were flown on mainline aircraft, while Mount Cook Airlines controlled 17% of the group’s domestic share, with Air Nelson accounting for the remaining 15%. Overall, the Air New Zealand Group controlled 77% of the domestic market from Auckland last year, with Jetstar Airways having a 22% share, and Air Chathams 1.2%.
Network of 48 destinations
By the end of this year, Air New Zealand’s network from Auckland will consist of 48 destinations. Splitting these destinations into international and domestic categories, 14 airports in New Zealand are linked to Auckland by the carrier, while it also serves 33 international airports non-stop. London Heathrow is also served, albeit via Los Angeles, giving for a grand total of 48 destinations. This is a destination count which will increase by two later this year, with the carrier planning to launch flights to Chicago O’Hare and Taipei Taoyuan from November. Of the 48 destinations presently flown to by the airline, five are seasonal, namely Cairns, Denpasar, Ho Chi Minh City, Osaka Kansai and Sunshine Coast according to OAG data.
Returning to the airline’s present network, and given the lack of high-speed road infrastructure and railways in New Zealand, it is not surprising that eight of the airline’s top 12 routes from Auckland involve domestic links. The top route is the Wellington, with Air New Zealand offering 135 weekly departures on the 480-kilometre hop, with all movements for the week commencing 14 August scheduled to operate using its A320s. Along with Wellington, the only other route to see more than one million one-way seats is Christchurch. Sydney is the biggest international route, followed by Melbourne. While Los Angeles is classed as the sixth busiest and largest long-haul market, it should be noted that 51% of this capacity continues onto London Heathrow, with the carrier also having traffic rights between the US and UK cities.
When looking back at the recent history of the airline’s network from Auckland, the last round of route cuts took place in 2015, with the carrier ending regional services to Kaitaia and Whakatane, both situated in the northern part of the North Island. Both routes were flown up to twice-daily on Eagle Air Beech 1900s. While these two routes may have ended, the carrier has started services to Singapore (2015), Buenos Aires Ezeiza (2015), Houston Intercontinental (2015), Osaka Kansai (2016), Ho Chi Minh City (2016) and Tokyo Haneda (2017).
Many routes getting the ‘Dream’ service
Air New Zealand was one of the first operators of the 787-9. Since accepting this initial aircraft, the airline now has 11 in its fleet (December 2017, although none have been delivered this year), with a further two still on order. The first destination for the 787-9 was Perth, followed by Tokyo Narita, Shanghai Pudong and Sydney. This August the destination count for the 787-9 from Auckland has grown to 16, with Apia, Brisbane, Cairns, Christchurch, Denpasar, Ho Chi Minh City, Houston Intercontinental, Melbourne, Papeete, Rarotonga and Singapore all seeing rotations with the aircraft. The next destinations to see service with the type include Adelaide, which will join the 787 network in November, with the aircraft operating on the route seasonally until March 2019 with four weekly flights. The new routes to Chicago O’Hare and Taipei Taoyuan will also be flown on the type.