How has New Zealand’s international aviation market evolved since the pandemic?
By Pang Yee Huat, Solutions Engineer at Cirium
As in many other markets, New Zealand’s international flight and seat capacity saw a deep decline, plunging to its lowest in 2021 at -87% against 2019. However, since the launch of New Zealand’s phased approach in opening its borders from 12 April 2022, airlines have not only been gradually returning but are also increasing capacity.
We can see that the Trans-Tasman route, between Australia and New Zealand, continues to form the lion’s share of Air New Zealand’s international air connectivity. This route now makes up 63% of total seats in Q3 2022 as compared to 55% in Q3 2019. However, with various country borders still not fully opened, we now see several changes in New Zealand’s top 10 international markets. In particular, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates and Japan, ranked 8th, 9th and 11th in Q3 2019, have all dropped out of the Top 10 list of international seats by destination country.
Interestingly, while most markets are still struggling to recover to pre-pandemic levels, Fiji has vigorously bounced back with Fiji Airways’ increasing seat capacity and flight frequencies by 25% and 16% above pre-pandemic levels. This has allowed Fiji to overtake the United States as the second largest international market for New Zealand.
As one of the popular tourism destinations in Australasia, New Zealand is keen to regain travelers’ mindshare. Indeed, revenue from tourism forms 5.5% of New Zealand’s gross domestic product, representing a value of $16.4 billion, and we are now seeing concerted efforts by organizations such as Tourism New Zealand launching global tourism campaigns.
On the airline front, Air New Zealand and Qantas continue to take the top two spots when it comes to international seats operated out of New Zealand. Capacity recovery has been rather muted as many international airlines from Asia Pacific are either operating very low flight frequencies or have yet to resume operations to New Zealand.
Interestingly, Qatar Airways has adopted the approach of operating lower flight frequencies from New Zealand but with larger B777-300ER aircraft, which offers a seat increase of 30% per flight.
As the world moves towards living with the pandemic, the recent easing of COVID-19 border requirements in countries such as Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, and Taiwan should provide a positive injection of confidence for airlines. We could well see them considering capacity resumption to New Zealand in the coming months.
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