Air New Zealand has announced flights from Auckland to Paraparaumu, 60 km north of Wellington Airport. Business travellers from the Kapiti Coast and Hutt Valley commuter belts will save considerable time and hassle at the upgraded Paraparaumu Airport compared with flying via Wellington Airport when flights start in October.
The new flights will please business travellers from the northern suburbs and commuter belt who need to reach WLG airport at peak travel times. Currently, all traffic must pass through motorway and rail bottlenecks north of the central business district, and around Mount Victoria to the west of Wellington Airport. Travel times can be unpredictable at rush hour.
Even at quieter times, the journey from areas closer to Paraparaumu to Wellington Airport can take over an hour, whereas travellers opting for the new flights will have an easier drive against the rush hour traffic. A better journey to the airport makes Paraparaumu a good choice for passengers from areas north of Wellington's CBD.
The business-friendly 0655 weekday and Saturday departure from Paraparaumu arrives into Auckland at 0805. It compares favourably with the first flight to Auckland from Wellington at 0630, which gets into Auckland at 0730.
The evening weekday return flight at 1810 (arriving into Paraparaumu at 1925) is also well timed. All in all, there are three return flights each weekday, and a further three return flights over the weekend.
Paraparaumu Airport is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar programme of works to allow it to open to scheduled commercial flights. A new terminal and various operational improvements will be completed over the winter months.
Air New Zealand has chosen its subsidiary Air Nelson's Bombardier Q300 turboprop aircraft seating 50 passengers for the route. The Paraparaumu-Auckland flights will start on 24 October and are scheduled to take 70 minutes -- an extra ten minutes over the Boeing 737 jets that fly from Wellington. Happily, though, there are no middle seats on the Q300, which is in a 2-2 cabin layout.
Cost-conscious business travellers may also save money by choosing Paraparaumu over Wellington. With greater demand from the capital's airport leading to high fares, especially for the first flight of the morning, it may well be cheaper to fly from Paraparaumu to Auckland instead.