Air New Zealand To Stop All Ghost Flights

Air New Zealand has upturned its entire flight schedule in an effort to stop ghost flights – empty aircraft moving into position for actual passengers. Revealed on Twitter by the Air New Zealand Chief Revenue Officer, over 7,000 flights will be canceled as the new schedule is rolled out.

Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand has dropped 95% of all flights Photo: Getty Images

What are ghost flights?

In the normal world, ghost flights are a rare necessity. Sometimes there is a gap between two revenue flights, an aircraft pulled from service or extra demand that results in the airline repositioning an aircraft.

However, in the current aviation crisis airlines are finding ghost flights increasingly common. For example, if an airline is operating a rescue flight to pick up citizens trapped internationally, it is almost guaranteed that the flight heading out to the country will be empty.

Additionally, airlines are finding their domestic demand falling through the floor and that plenty of aircraft are ending up in remote destinations with no one to make the return trip (for example New York to Key West, Florida). Thus airlines are having to pay essentially for double the trips.

To avoid this problem, Air New Zealand has decided to take radical action and shut down almost its entire flight schedule, rebuilding it from the ground up.

Air New Zealand Dreamliner 787-9
Air New Zealand has been using its widebody fleets to get NZ citizens home. Photo: Getty Images

What are the details?

Speaking via TTwitter today, Cam Wallace, the Chief Revenue Officer at Air New Zealand outlined the scope of the plan.

In order to remove any ghost flights, the airline had decided to close down any existing scheduled flights for sale and any that have no tickets sold (a majority of them during this crisis) will be rescued or canceled. Other flights with passengers, if not full, will be combined.

This move will save the airline’s bottom line, staff costs, and the environment. And with so few people flying, not many will be affected.

The changes today will be rolled out for domestic services. Typically the airline would have around 400 domestic flights a day across the island nation, but now that has been reduced by around 99% with 95% of services canceled.

“Domestic travel is still an option but is extremely limited while New Zealand is at Alert Level 4 and we have updated our schedule to reflect this,” Cam Wallace said to RNZ.

“In the coming weeks, we will be operating a limited number of flights a day using our A320 jet aircraft, as well as our ATR and Q300 turboprop aircraft.”

What is the new domestic schedule?

The new domestic schedule will operate to the following cities:

Auckland-Christchurch – 3 x daily Monday to Friday, with a single service on Saturday and Sunday. The route will be operated by an Airbus A320

Auckland-Wellington – 1 x daily seven days a week with an Airbus A320

Wellington-Christchurch – Twice a day Monday to Friday with a Q300, One service a day on Saturday and Sunday using an ATR aircraft.

Wellington-Nelson – Daily service Monday to Friday with a Q300. No service on weekends.

Christchurch-Dunedin – One flight on Monday with an ATR and one flight on Friday with the same aircraft.

Schedule information first published by RNZ.

What do you think of this news? Do you like the new schedule? Let us know in the comments.