Air New Zealand preparing 580,000 seats on domestic flights during winter school holidays 2023

Air New Zealand is anticipating over half a million passengers will fly with them domestically on 6500 flights during the upcoming school holidays, and is selling tens of thousands more airfares than were offered last year.

Queenstown is the most popular destination, the airline said, with nearly 70,000 seats available in and out of the tourist hotspot from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

The winter school break takes place from July 1 through to July 16 and includes the Matariki public holiday on July 14.

Air NZ will offer 580,000 seats on flights across its domestic network during the period, which it said is 45,000 more than in 2022.

Of course, this many people travelling at the same time will mean extra busy airports and extra pressure on staff.

"Our teams are working hard to prepare for the holiday demand, including increasing staff numbers where needed and enabling more customers to self-serve during their travel experience," said Air NZ chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty.

"We've seen huge demand for travel across Aotearoa New Zealand over the school holiday period… our goal is to provide customers with the smoothest travel experience possible."

On AM, Geraghty offered some advice for travellers to help ensure a smooth journey during the busy time.

"I would say get there a little earlier and give yourself plenty of time," she told host Ryan Bridge.

"In particular, if you are one of our customers travelling to places like Queenstown where there's a greater propensity for people to have ski equipment and larger bags, if you have any of those items, we would suggest you make plenty of time to get to the airport ahead of your departure.

"There's a few other things people can do - check your documentation very closely before you travel, make sure that your time is the time you think you're going, that it's not the morning instead of the evening and vice versa.

"We strongly recommend people to sign up to our app and our travel alerts page so that they can have the most up to date information at hand."

While Air NZ faces competition from Jetstar on flights between the main centres, it also flies to smaller airports and has increased capacity to those as well. Compared to the 2022 winter school holidays, Air NZ said it has increased seats available on flights between Christchurch and Rotorua by 55 percent, Christchurch and Tauranga by 40 percent, and Auckland and Blenheim by 26 percent.

Internationally, Air NZ said it currently has 1300 flights scheduled and 230,000 bookings for the school holiday period. The top five destinations are as follows:

  1. Sydney
  2. Melbourne
  3. Brisbane
  4. Singapore
  5. Nadi.

"If you're going internationally, make sure you've got all your visas and ESTAs and those types of things in order," Geraghty said on AM, after it was noted some people have forgotten about elements of international travel during the COVID-19 era.

"You still do have to do your liquids, aerosols and gels [in a clear plastic bag] as you go through security screening. But the most important thing is just actually checking the requirements of the country that you're going to - and they vary by country. 

"I can't stress that enough for people travelling internationally. If it's your first time back again, please take the time to have a look. Our website has plentiful information as to what's required at each destination."