Quirky News: Unprunned Trees Force Air NZ to Reduce Capacity

Air New Zealand

767 photo by AirSpace user Keith Gaskell

Across the Tasman separating Australia and New Zealand, trees are causing an uproar outside Rotorua airport. Next month Air New Zealand plans to start Rotorua-Sydney services using an A320. Rotorua (quasi-affectionately referred to as “Rotovegas” by Kiwis) is a tourist town just 113 miles from Auckland. As such, it only sees small, non-jet aircraft.

Air NZ’s A320 would make the type the largest to serve Rotorua. But one man who owns property under the airport’s flight path is refusing to trim his trees, which are currently too tall for safe operations. This quirky news comes from the Dominion Post:

The space surrounding thetrees on Mr Fischer’s property has been identified as part of theextended runway’s new “obstacle limitation surface”.

JudgeJeff Smith’s decision means Air New Zealand will have to introduceweight restrictions by reducing passenger loadings on its A320 flights.

Passenger numbers will be reduced from 152 to 126 on the A320 aircraft unless Mr Fischer’s trees are trimmed.

Thecourt declined the airport company’s application to trim the treespartly because the company had breached an earlier ruling involving MrFischer.

As the article alludes, there’s a history to this case. Noteworthy is the fact the man’s property is on the south side of the runway, but Air NZ cannot guarantee a northern landing at all times.


If NZ’s courts will not force him to cut his trees, will Air NZ operate with 17% reduced capacity? Could Air NZ offer to pay the man to cut his trees?

Update 27 November: Air NZ says in the next few weeks it will be confirming the payload for Rotorua-Sydney flights. The airline does not expect a “significant reduction” in capacity.

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