The campaign by Qantas Airways to boost its New Zealand presence has focused on Christchurch - New Zealand's second gateway. The Australian flag carrier plans to replace capacity between Christchurch and Australia dropped by Air New Zealand (ANZ) last November. ANZ's withdrawal of direct flights upset South Island tourism officials and local exporters, who lost half their cargo capacity and now must send shipments through Auckland for overseas connections.

Qantas is adding six weekly Boeing 767 flights to Christchurch starting in July, plus three more to Auckland. Under the common aviation market pact between Australia and New Zealand, airlines in each country have unlimited cabotage and third/fourth freedom rights in the other. The move is the first Qantas has made in its new aggressive New Zealand growth strategy.

ANZ's Christchurch cutback has also brought the first hint of political second-guessing since the New Zealand government took over its flag carrier. Opposition members of parliament have criticised the airline's cutback and suggested the move might warrant scrutiny before Wellington approves any further capital injections for the airline.

Source: Airline Business