I've done a bit of analysis on some of the "monopoly" Transtasman routes, using the BITRE statistics, and it shows up some interesting data:
Firstly, NZ flights:
CHC-PER has been hovering around the 14,000 two-way pax for the four month season since the service began. Until this year, that is, when there has been a marked uptick. Although the April flights are not yet loaded into BITRE, the Jan-March figures show an improvement of more than 20% over the previous four years. However, it still only represents a 65% LF, so the chances of a third weekly flight must be some way in the future.
AKL-MCY has shown steady pax growth since it began in July 2012. There was a spike in summer 2015-16 when a summer seasonal service operated for a couple of months, but that hasn't been repeated since. The steady (though unspectacular) growth in the winter months has subsequently continued.
AKL-CNS For comparative purposes, I've excluded the Dec 2016-Dec 2018 period when PR was also on the route. Otherwise, it appears that the route peaked at 78,000 two-way pax in 2012, with passenger volumes declining to 31,000 pax, less than half the peak, by the 2015 calendar year. Too soon to tell what the loadings will look like post-PR.
AKL-NLK Volumes were around 10-11,000 two way pax every year until the service terminated. Stagnant.
ROT-SYD Again, almost the whole time the service operated, two-way pax were around 20-21,000 per year. No growth at all.
AKL-ADL Slow but unspectacular growth from 2010 to the present, with around 77,000 two-way pax in the most recent year. There was a big spike in 2014 - why would that have been? - but pax numbers fell back in 2015 to the "normal" trending growth. There does not seem to have been any significant impact from the introduction of wide-bodies on the route.
RAR-SYD Not strictly Transtasman, but the figures are interesting nevertheless. The first full year of operation was 2012, when 15,000 two-way pax were carried. By CY 2017 the numbers had grown to 22,000, a full 50% increase. The first three months of 2018 show a spectacular 35%-ish increase over the same months in 2017. Load factors are still only around 76% this year, but the growth has to be very encouraging.
Now, VA's sole monopoly route:
DUD-BNE Looks very unhealthy to me - numbers have steadily declined from 55,000 two-way pax in 2010 to 44,000 in 2017. The first few months of 2018 show a further deterioration of a few per cent over 2017.
And JetStar's routes:
WLG-OOL Slight annual growth each year from 2015 to the present; the last full year, 2017, had 47,000 two-way pax.
ZQN-OOL Slow but steady growth each year from 2015 to the present; pax numbers are slightly below the WLG-OOL flights which started at the same time, but are catching up.
And finally, SQ:
WLG-CBR Not a big dataset, as the route operated only for 19 months. However, the numbers of two-way pax in 2017 were around 31,000, and except for March 2018, the pax numbers for each month compared with the same month in the previous year were 10-65% higher, with most months gaining around 25% over the previous year. Over the course of 2017, there were almost exactly 300 pax/week average each way. I still believe that the demand from AKL has to be at least double that from WLG, and 600 AKL pax each way each week would surely justify at least four flights a week by A320 for a year round average 89% LF.
So all in all, from NZ's point of view I take from this that CHC-PER and RAR-SYD are doing well, of late, but come off a low base that means that frequency upgrades may not be imminent. AKL-MCY just trundles on, as does AKL-ADL. However, AKL-CNS must be a bit of a worry (perhaps a downgrading to all A320-operation?), and we should not expect to see AKL-NLK or ROT-SYD back again unless circumstances change dramatically. WLG-OOL might conceivably attract NZ in competition with JQ, but I'd imagine that ZQN-OOL is out because I suspect many of the pax are Asian visitors arriving at OOL and doing a whistle-stop two-country tour on JQ metal. And while I wouldn't necessarily expect to see NZ on WLG-CBR (though it could support a 2x weekly A320 at very decent LFs, going by SQ's experience), the opportunity has to be there for AKL-CBR, the new QF codeshare deal notwithstanding.
And if current trends continue, DUD-BNE has to be a candidate for the chop, especially if VA's financial woes continue.
Of course, none of this says anything about yield on any of these routes, which is info that BITRE obviously does not collect.
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