6 Sep 2023

Passengers give up seats to others as Niue-NZ flights lack capacity

4:50 pm on 6 September 2023
220414. Photo RNZ. Niue, Niue International Airport, Hanan airport, aviation

220414. Photo RNZ. Niue ans Cook Islands. Niue International Airport Photo: RNZ

Niue's finance minister Crossley Tatui says the country is speaking with Air New Zealand about the lack of capacity on the single weekly flight.

It comes after revelations that people have been offering up their seats to people who need to be in Auckland or elsewhere in New Zealand urgently.

Niue Broadcasting reported this week that several MPs asked Premier Dalton Tagelagi what the government intends to do to help travellers struggling with expensive airfares and lack of available seats.

MP Billy Talagi revealed the situation is impacting families who are unable to attend funerals or other important events because of the unavailability of seats.

Stuck in paradise

Pacific Media Network journalist Inagaro Vakaafi was one of the passengers who gave up her seat this week and so will be stuck on the island for three weeks instead of her original plan of one week.

Yesterday, on social media, Vakaafi posted her hope of a resolution.

"I hope the Niue government manages to broker a deal with Air NZ for a second flight or another airline so there isn't a monopoly making us pay an arm and a leg just for a seat," she said.

"You don't plan for medical emergencies or God forbid those sudden deaths within families."

Niue Broadcasting said many travellers are public servants forced to spend extra weeks in Auckland.

A second aircraft is planned to come onto the schedule in November but Crossley Tatui said while they are in dialogue with Air New Zealand he won't say if there are discussions on putting a second plane on immediately.

He did say that one matter under discussion is having Air New Zealand use an aircraft with greater capacity on the single flight.

The Niue government used to underwrite the Air New Zealand flights, in case of low patronage, but there is no such arrangement in place at the moment.