Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel has lashed out at Air New Zealand for axing its direct service from her city to Tokyo.
Ms Dalziel said the city was the gateway to the South Island and the airline's decision would be detrimental to Christchurch and the mainland.
She said the service was a profitable one that has been growing in recent times and the decision to cut it made no sense.
Christchurch City Councillor Raj Manji said the airline's decision to axe the service will see exporters and tourism operators lose millions of dollars in earnings.
He said the airline should have consulted the council before making its decision, and that a direct flight from Singapore is now the only long-haul service into the city.
"I think it's further evidence of Auckland becoming their long-haul hub, with the rest of the country as feeder airports.
"Obviously it's leveraging further on the Auckland to Queenstown - we'll probably see a lot of tourists coming into Auckland and going straight down to Queenstown, bypassing Canterbury."
Mr Manji said the council will work hard to attract other airlines, including those in China.
A statement from Air New Zealand said its research showed Japanese travellers preferred to fly directly to Auckland and its decision has also been driven by the extra cost of flying direct to Christchurch.
The airline said the Tokyo to Auckland service would arrive early in the morning so passengers could transfer to domestic flights to Christchurch.