Air New Zealand will suspend services between Hamilton and Sydney and the Gold Coast from the end of March to late October next year.

The airline said the period — from March 29 to October 24 — was traditionally a lower demand period.

Glen Sowry, Air NZ’s general manager of Tasman Pacific airline, said the move was a result of weak demand and an oversupply of trans-Tasman capacity from Auckland.

“This decision is part of Air New Zealand’s ongoing review of its network to ensure we operate a sustainable business through the current global economic downturn which is seeing airlines suffer, and in many cases fail, the world over,” he said on Monday.

“We certainly regret having to suspend the three times per week service to Sydney and twice a week service to the Gold Coast. However, with poor load factors, equally poor yield and high fuel costs, we cannot afford to fly routes that lose money in the current economic environment.

“Quite simply, Waikato residents are not travelling like they used to, or are choosing to travel through Auckland Airport. The Hamilton-Sydney route, for example, has operated less than half full over the past six months. That’s the equivalent of operating more than 60 empty A320 flights on the Sydney route alone.

Efforts to stimulate demand with significantly lower average fares compared to the rest of the Tasman network have not had the required effect, Sowry said.

“In addition, the glut in trans-Tasman capacity from Auckland is cannibalising the Hamilton services as many of those travelling to Australia from the Waikato appear to be flying from Auckland.”

Hamilton would still have an Australian connection, with retention of the twice weekly flights to and from Brisbane.

“While this will provide access to Brisbane and the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, it is important to note that unless the services are economically viable they will also come under review in the future. I urge Waikato residents to make the most of these direct services to help ensure their long term future.”

Sowry says trans-Tasman services to and from Hamilton between now and March next year remain unchanged.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said the suspension of the services would not lead to any job cuts.