Trans-Tasman ties boosted as two-way airline capacity added


Airlines are boosting trans-Tasman capacity as travel between Australia and New Zealand soars and the two nations prepare for more seamless travel across the Tasman.

Booking and capacity data from Flight Centre Travel Group’s flagship large-market business travel division, FCM Travel, reflects a 30 per cent increase in booking count into New Zealand between September 2023 – February 2024, compared to the same period in the year previous.

Flight Centre Global Corporate COO Melissa Elf said the growth in travel across the Tasman came as airlines announced more flights between Australia and New Zealand, and their respective Governments looked to introduce more seamless travel between the countries.

“Travel to New Zealand was consistently more than 10 per cent of all of FCM Travel’s international bookings out of Australia throughout 2023, and we are expecting to see that increase as trade relationships grow and more capacity is introduced,” Ms Elf said.

“The industries travelling most frequently between Australia and New Zealand in the last six months were construction (19%), followed by education (16%) government and not-for-profit (13%), finance and insurance (12%) and retail (11%).

“Australia's bilateral trade and economic relationship with New Zealand is one of the broadest and most diverse in the world – a busy airbridge across the Tasman is critical for businesses to thrive on both sides.

“Mid-last year the Australian and New Zealand Prime Ministers announced a bilateral road map to 2035, which we’re already seeing positively impact business and trade partnerships between our nations.

“Seat capacity between Australia and New Zealand is currently at 89 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels, which we expect will fluctuate and build throughout the year as we slowly return to full capacity.

“We’ve seen carriers on both sides of the ditch up flights in response to the travel demand.

“Two-way travel demand is key for airlines when deciding whether to increase services in and out of New Zealand. Both are needed to maximise an airlines’ revenue as it ensures a consistent flow of passengers - optimising seat occupancy and overall profitability.” 

Air New Zealand will bring on trans-Tasman capacity from 2 July with an additional 100,000 seats per year available. Qantas announced an additional 600 seats per week between Brisbane and Wellington from October.   

Jetstar will also see a return to pre-pandemic capacity in New Zealand by mid-year, as it ramps up services by 150,000 additional seats on domestic and trans-Tasman routes from 31 March. The carrier will add nine flights a week between Melbourne and Christchurch, Brisbane and Christchurch, and Brisbane and Auckland.

“There have been calls from the travel industry to create more seamless travel between Australia and New Zealand, including through the proposed scrapping of the need for passports,” Ms Elf said.

“We will hear from our respective Prime Ministers by the end of the financial year as to how our two countries will work for a more productive travel experience.

“Any improvements on travel across the Tasman would be welcome for business travellers, who heavily rely on this route for business trade and relationships.”

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia is New Zealand’s top investment destination, with total investment value recorded at $47 billion.

Ms Elf said the growth of trans-Tasman business travel was further bolstered by growing tourism travel to and from New Zealand.

Tourism New Zealand figures have shown consecutive growth in visitor numbers from Australia with a record 67,400 travellers coming to New Zealand in January, an increase of 26.8 per cent on the same period last year.

Conversely the Australian Tourist Commission shows New Zealanders visiting Australia have also been on the rise, up 14 per cent in January 2024 to 53,600.

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