City keeps Brisbane service

Dunedin's thrice-weekly Brisbane flights will continue and the city will retain its international airport.

Virgin Australia announced yesterday the flights would continue after October, despite an alliance with Air New Zealand ending that month.

The airline has also announced a new service between Queenstown and Melbourne.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said yesterday he was ``absolutely delighted'' with the news.

The future of the Dunedin-Brisbane air service had been in doubt since the end of the Air New Zealand-Virgin transtasman alliance was announced earlier this month.

The airlines had co-operated on services since the end of 2010, but regulatory approval expired at the end of October and they did not apply for renewal.

Yesterday, Virgin announced in a press release new routes and increased frequency between Auckland and Australia, but a ``small reduction'' in the Brisbane to Wellington and Melbourne to Christchurch routes.

In terms of Dunedin, the release noted ``Virgin Australia also remains the only international airline flying to and from Dunedin''.

The company confirmed to the Otago Daily Times Dunedin would continue to get three flights a week.

Flights would depart Brisbane on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, and Dunedin on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The Thursday flight from Brisbane replaced a Friday flight, and the Friday flight from Dunedin replaced a Saturday flight.

That made it easier for Dunedin travellers wanting to head to Brisbane for the weekend.

There would be four flights a week between December 15 and January 20, but no change to a post-midnight arrival time in Dunedin.

Queenstown would have flights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in both directions.

Mr Cull said he felt ``some relief'' at the news the flights would continue.

Asked about marketing to keep the flights going - Dunedin Airport marketing and communications manager Megan Crawford said recently passenger numbers on inbound flights had improved after ``some difficulties'' - Mr Cull said Enterprise Dunedin spent a considerable amount of its overseas marketing budget on Queensland.

The council would continue to budget for that work, and would look at what more it could do.

Ms Crawford said the airport was ``just stoked that we've continued to get the service''.

When she heard the news yesterday, ``I have to say I did consume a glass of wine''.

``We're just pleased to have maintained it, and it will now be around the commitment, working as a city and a region, to grow the service.''

Ms Crawford said she had worked with Enterprise Dunedin on campaigns in Queensland.

``We've invested a significant amount of money to profile the destination. We do need to be doing more.

``We need to be continually in the market talking about the destination because the fact is it's our only international direct service.''

Enterprise Dunedin public relations and promotions adviser Sarah Bramhall said this year was the third of a three-year campaign focusing on Queensland and the Brisbane flight.

That work included advertising and media campaigns in Brisbane.



Virgin supports Dunedin, while Air NZ doesn’t. Does any more need to be said?
Remember this when you book your next domestic flight.

What Air NZ have to do with it if this is Australian flight maintained by an Australian company and why it should affect our decision when booking domestic flights? Air NZ does support domestic flights to/from Dunedin (although timing is rubbish). Maybe JetStar is cheaper but I never used them again after being on their AKL-DUD flight in December 2015 when engine started to spit fire and we had emergency landing

The flights by Virgin are dropping from 4 a week to 3. The inbound numbers have been very low on most inbound flights. This service will fold if the arrival and departure times are not put back to the middle of the afternoon.