4 Mar 2021
Kiwis and NZ produce still flying
The daily rhythm of our airport has changed because of the pandemic, but there’s still lots going on here.
New Zealanders have certainly heeded the call to “back your backyard” this summer. We’ve seen strong demand for domestic travel to and from our airport, and our airline partners have reinstated around 85% of their scheduled domestic services.
Christmas Eve was our busiest summer travel day, with more than 13,000 passengers passing through the terminal on their way to visit friends and family. As well as the big cities, especially popular holiday destinations were Tauranga, Hamilton, Napier, the Chatham Islands, and Palmerston North, with seats available to them all.
We celebrated the launch of a new route in November - a link with Wanaka operated by Sounds Air’s Pilatus PC-12 aircraft which have been darting back and forth to the resort town twelve times a week. This convenient alternative to a five hour drive has been very popular and many flights have completely sold out.
Though we might not be flying overseas, high value South Island produce certainly is. New Zealand lamb flew out of here to be served on British Christmas dinner tables, and people in other parts of the world have been buying up our delicacies.
Up to 30 dedicated freighter flights every week have transported fresh seafood, stone fruit, and other tasty specialities direct from here to markets in Australia, Asia, the UK, and the United States.
One highlight was China Airlines’ shiny new Boeing 777 Freighter aircraft arriving here just days out of the factory to load cherries in time for Lunar New Year celebrations. Another was the Cathay Pacific 747-8F which attracted a lot of admiring glances from planespotters and airport staff during its overnight stay, before loading up freight for international markets and flying out the next day.
More and more kiwis are flocking to online shopping too. A big jump in online sales is keeping domestic airfreight flights very busy, zipping around the country every night to get parcels to their destinations as quickly as possible.
While some travel habits have changed for now, there's still plenty of airtime to be had for people and freight alike.