Airlines struggling to meet demand as Kiwis head overseas

If you're looking to travel overseas anytime soon, it could be bad news as a shortage of flights is biting and prices are high.

Air New Zealand's CEO admits he was taken by surprise by the timing of our border re-opening as the national carrier scrambles to get enough planes back in the air. 

Since our borders began to reopen in February this year demand for flights has exploded, as cooped-up Kiwis finally book their trips. The traditional overseas experience is now back on and demand has soared. But many Kiwis are struggling to book flights out of here. 

Travel agent Brent Thomas has been in the industry for 24 years and says it's the worst he's seen it. The perfect storm of demand exceeding supply. 

"This is almost like the toilet paper going off the shelves way back at the start of 2020," Thomas told Newshub. 

"It did catch us by surprise and I think it's taken the airlines by surprise, and it's taken them a while to respond." 

Newshub tried to book a flight to Melbourne for this month on Air New Zealand's website, and most days there're no fares available. For Sydney and Canberra it's almost as tight.

It's the same for popular destinations Los Angeles or London. There's close to nothing left for the next month. 

Many domestic routes are also tight. 

Tour company 'The Travel Corporation' has noticed a massive spike in demand for its youth Contiki brand. 

"On May alone, there was an over 40-percent increase in people wanting to travel." Scott Cleaver, Contiki NZ Director told Newshub. 

Air NZ CEO Greg Foran admits it's been a scramble trying to get planes back in the air. 

"Re-starting the business has been a fast and furious exercise", Foran told Newshub. 

The Government fast-forwarded its border reopening and he says it took him by surprise. 

"The instructions that we were hearing from the government were that this would be a slower re-opening of the borders, it would be more staged." 

Air New Zealand says it's working on getting five triple-777s stored in a North American desert back here. But Foran says with staff training and plane checks, it takes about four months per plane. 

"We're running at about 40-percent at the moment, and progressively as each week adding more as more resources become available to get to 50 percent. Then from July 4 is when we really start to turn on. 

By next month, the airline hopes to be back up to 72-percent capacity. 

But there are still some complications to come.