Norfolk Island Airlines will cease all passenger services from 17 March 2018. The airline, which currently operates the Brisbane-Norfolk Island route, already suspended flights between Auckland and the small island earlier this year.
The withdrawal of Norfolk Island Airlines leaves Air New Zealand with a monopoly on flights to the Australian territory north-west of New Zealand. Air New Zealand operates 3x weekly services from Sydney to Norfolk Island, as well as twice-weekly flights out of Brisbane. There are currently no commercial flights from Norfolk Island to New Zealand.
Norfolk Island Airlines fares to Norfolk Island included a free half-day tour of the island on arrival.
In a press release, Norfolk Island Airlines cited increased aircraft operating costs as a key factor behind the decision to suspend operations:
Over the last 12 months the airline has endeavored to provide Norfolk Island with additional independent passenger services to Auckland and Brisbane.
The airline was the only business that came forward to try and solve the damage to the Island economy due to the loss of direct New Zealand services. The direct Auckland service proved to be unprofitable, due to increase charges applied to the route after the decision was made to commence operations, and now with the loss of the Auckland service these same increased operating costs have resulted in continued passenger operations, to and from Brisbane, not being sustainable.
Passengers with existing Norfolk Island Airlines bookings will be entitled to a full refund. The airline will continue to operate freight services to the island.
The Norfolk Island Airlines flights have been operated on a wet-lease basis by Nauru Airlines, which has a base in Brisbane.
The loss of Norfolk Island Airlines services will almost certainly impact Norfolk Island’s tourism industry, which is already struggling with a downturn in visitor numbers.
The final Norfolk Island Airlines service will depart Norfolk Island on 17 March. Flight ON346 departs at 4.15pm, arriving in Brisbane at 5.30pm. Tickets for the final flight are currently on sale for $391, or $551 in Business class.