By James Wilkinson
Pacific Blue has announced new international direct flights from Hamilton, New Zealand, to Brisbane and Sydney as the airline continues its rapid expansion throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
Pacific Blue’s Hamilton (NZ) flights begin in September
The sister airline to Virgin Blue yesterday (June 3) announced it will offer six direct flights between Australia and Hamilton each week – three flights from Brisbane and three from Sydney.
When the flights are launched in the first week of September, Hamilton would become the fifth New Zealand city served by Pacific Blue alongside Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington.
The new flights have been welcomed by Waikato business leaders, who had been lobbying Pacific Blue to start Hamilton flights, following the April withdrawal on international services by Air New Zealand.
Virgin Blue Group CEO Brett Godfrey said the decision to begin services from Hamilton to Australia was based partly on the huge support the Waikato business community had shown the airline.
“When our New Zealand team did a flying visit to Hamilton Airport a few weeks ago with one of our new Embraer jets we were very encouraged to see a strong turnout from local government and businesses who asked us to consider providing a direct link to Australia,” he said. “We’re very pleased to make that request a reality.
Hamilton Mayor Bob Simcock told New Zealand’s 3 News he is thrilled the international route is back up and running.
“We’re delighted, we’ve been working for some time, since Air New Zealand departed the city, and we’re delighted to have international flights back again,” he said.
Godfrey said although times were tough, the airline was always on the lookout to enter new markets where the business case stacked up.
“Our strategy is always to look for markets that are under-served,” he said. “As Hamilton currently has no international services in place, it was an obvious opportunity for us.
“The region has a track record of supporting low-fare airlines and we look forward to welcoming the people from Waikato, Bay of Plenty and further afield on board when Pacific Blue flights begin in September,” Godfrey said.
Airfares are now on sale from $202 ex-Sydney and $232 ex-Brisbane and Godfrey said regular lead-in airfares would be at least 25 per cent lower than the lead-in fares currently available for connecting flights from Hamilton to Brisbane or Sydney on other airlines.