AIR NEW ZEALAND has responded to growing competition on routes between New Zealand and Australia by introducing a new service operated on behalf of its wholly owned subsidiary, Mount Cook Airlines.

Mount Cook will wet-lease a Boeing 757 from UK charter operator Britannia, flying from Hamilton and Dunedin in New Zealand to Sydney and Brisbane, the routes recently opened by start-up carrier Kiwi Air.

Kiwi has responded by announcing that it will replace the Boeing 727-200 it has been wet-leasing from US carrier Av Atlantic, with a 757 wet-leased from a second UK charter operator, Air 2000.

The new airline, which has experienced load factors of "between 90% and 95%", says, that its five-year deal with Air 2000 provides extra flexibility.

The new service brings the total of Australasian carriers on the routes to five, following Ansett's decision to operate trans-Tasman in competition with its new part owner, Air New Zealand. Air New Zealand and Qantas insist that trans-Tasman routes are unprofitable.

Source: Flight International