27 Sep 2018

Small airline competes against Air NZ on Whangārei flights

6:37 am on 27 September 2018

A small Auckland airline is about give Air New Zealand some regional competition by offering cheaper flights to Whangārei.

Air NZ plane tail

Photo: 123RF

Fly My Sky operates between Auckland and Great Barrier Island and said there was a gap in the market for cheaper flights to Northland.

The family-owned arline has operated for 38 years and has four 10-seater Britten-Norman Islander aircraft.

The company wanted to expand and Whangārei looked like the perfect place to start, chief executive and co-owner Keith McKenzie said.

"We believe that there is not the level of service for the public up there, there are not the number of flights that there are in other parts of New Zealand, and we think there's a niche in there for someone like ourselves to ... offer some alternative services," he said.

The flight from Whangārei to Auckland with Air New Zealand takes 35 minutes.

Fares can dip as low as $62 for travellers booking weeks ahead, but can be almost as much as a flight to Rarotonga - nearly $400 for a return flight.

Fly My Sky fares would start at $99 one way with a 23kg bag, Mr McKenzie said.

"Overall we will be more than competitive with the current operator."

There were gaps in Air New Zealand's Whangārei schedule and Fly My Sky intended to fill them, he said.

It planned to begin with two return flights a day from Monday to Friday, but could expand to four if demand was strong.

Air New Zealand chief executive Chris Luxon said the national carrier offered a good service to Whangarei and competition was welcome.

"It's a really great thing actually, because there's a really vibrant, secondary and smaller airline market in regional New Zealand," Mr Luxon said.

Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai was also embracing the competition.

The city was growing fast, Air New Zealand flights were often full, and Fly My Sky's 7am flight from Auckland would be especially useful, she predicted.

"Some of the DHB specialists from Auckland need to get up here in plenty of time to fill the day with appointments and I'm sure there will be many people who will take advantage of being able to come up, do a full day's business and head away again in the afternoon," Ms Mai said.

Fly My Sky's Whangārei service will start on 23 October.