Invercargill is punching well above its weight post-Covid compared to many other airports around New Zealand, according to Air New Zealand’s chairwoman Dame Therese Walsh.
Speaking at a Southland Chamber of Commerce breakfast this morning, she said domestic services into the city were at 94% of what they were pre-Covid.
The average across the country was between 70% and 83%, and with Invercargill having 53 return flights a week, more people were using the domestic services compared to the same time in 2019.
Cargo freight had also increased more than four times on Invercargill to Auckland flights, from 1.6 tonnes a month (pre-Covid), to 6.7 tonnes currently.
“We have planes flying everyday and not just with passengers. We’re up more than four times what it was pre-Covid in Otago to keep produce going to market,” she said.
Air New Zealand made the tough decision to reduce its workforce by more than 4000 staff last year, for the survival of the airline.
“There is nothing that can take away from the fact that what happened to Air New Zealand was heartbreaking,” she said.
With the Australian borders now open, Air New Zealand was flying into nine ports including Hobart for the first time in many years.
“Our biggest challenge is how are we going to service the hoards of Australians coming into New Zealand.”
With Asia-Pacific key relationships currently on hold right now, the airline was adapting to a new landscape and one that was now “more aggressive,” as a result of the pandemic.
Board member Dean Bracewell said their job was to make sure that everyone is in the right place at the right time, and to make sure the capacity is there when the switch has turned, and the borders are open again.