Air NZ's new flight routes upset mayor, warnings prices will get 'ugly'

Air New Zealand has revealed its new flight routes for level 2 but not the price of its tickets.

One aviation commentator expects prices to get "ugly" while a North Island mayor says he's "bitterly disappointed" his town's been left off the initial flight schedule.

Most of Air New Zealand's fleet remains parked up at airports around the country. But under alert level 2 they'll take to the skies again, although on a heavily-reduced domestic schedule.

From Auckland you'll be able to fly back and forth between 11 centres, from Kerikeri in the north to Queenstown in the south.

From Wellington, you'll be able to fly back and forth between eight centres, from Tauranga down to Blenheim.

And from Christchurch you'll be able to fly back and forth between just six centres, from Palmerston North to Invercargill.

"What can you expect? Very, very limited daily frequency," says aviation commentator Irene King.

For now, towns like Taupō, Hokitika and Timaru have been left off the map completely until demand increases.

Taupō District Mayor David Trewavas says this decision has left him "bitterly disappointed".

That's because to get in and out of Taupō, the nearest flight to Auckland is now a two-hour drive to and from Tauranga or Napier.

This adds precious travel time for those wanting to visit the region.

"The largest ski field in New Zealand for a starter, you know we're talking the central plateau here, huge geographical area that won't have that connectivity," Trewavas says.

Things will also look very different onboard aircraft to manage physical distancing.

Air New Zealand is yet to confirm exactly how it will separate passengers but with its A320 aircraft operating at just 65 percent of its normal capacity, it's likely the middle seats will remain empty.

However, the airline is considering allowing passengers to sit next to each other if they're from the same "bubble".

It's a different story on smaller aircraft like ATR's which will operate at just 50 percent of normal capacity.

But New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association President Captain Andrew Ridling wants the airline to explore further safety options.

"International Federations around the world are calling for masks to be worn onboard airplanes, we're talking about the idea of fogging or misting between trips which is the germ fog," he says.

One thing passengers will have to deal with is increased costs.

The airline has already signalled its cheap airfares won't be on offer under level 2.

"Gee they're looking ugly I have to say," King warns. "I'm thinking $250-$300 maybe."

The price of COVID-19 is taking its toll on our national carrier - and expect that toll to be passed on to passengers.