11 August 2014

Decision on Masterton Air Service Soon

A decision on the future shape of an air service for Wairarapa remains up in the air for at least another week. Masterton District Council convened a special meeting on Wednesday, and was expected to clinch a deal with Air Chathams by agreeing to fund a $180,000 extension at the aerodrome so a Metroliner could work the Masterton-Auckland route. The funding would be done with help from Carterton District Council to the tune of $30,000 and possibly South Wairarapa District Council. But a new development arose at the 11th hour when Vincent Aviation confirmed it was still interested in taking on the Masterton service, despite the Australian arm of the business having gone into receivership. That prompted councillors to put a decision on the back burner for a week to allow Vincent Aviation managing director Peter Vincent to make a presentation to the council, as Air Chathams has already done. They would then decide which air service to back. Should Vincent Aviation get the nod, there would be no need to fund an airport extension as the company would be flying a Saab 340 and would not need extra tarmac. According to retiring Wairarapa MP John Hayes, Air Chathams would need a runway extension because in hot, ambient temperatures the Metroliner's 18-seat carrying capacity would be affected as the runway was too short and, at 23 metres, narrower than required. At Wednesday's meeting, council chief executive Pim Borren said whereas his initial recommendation was to underwrite the runway extension so the Air Chathams proposal could get the go-ahead, he had since been talking to Mr Vincent. "He has told me Vincent Aviation has not gone out the window and he could present a proposal in a week," Mr Borren said. "I explained to him this would be a last-gasp situation." He said Vincent Aviation had said that, after a registration matter had been dealt with, the service "could be up and running in six weeks". Air Chathams had said it needed confirmation of the runway extension being underwritten this week "or they will withdraw their proposal and refund their investors," Mr Borren said. Mr Hayes said in a letter to Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson that a group under his leadership had held talks with Air Chathams over setting up a joint-venture company to run the service. "In the wake of this dialogue, the first step was to secure funding of $100,000 to meet the Wairarapa side of the capital." Money from 20 Wairarapa people was now in a trust fund, he said. Despite that, councillors opted to delay a decision in order to let Vincent Aviation put its case. Mrs Patterson said the council ran the risk of annoying Air Chathams by delaying a decision. "But at the end of the day we have to do what is best for ratepayers, so we have to take that risk and keep an open mind," she said. Councillor Chris Peterson said it was his understanding the Metroliner that Air Chathams would use was an older plane than a Saab 340 and did not have all the facilities of a Saab. Metroliners are sometimes referred to as " flying pencils". The Vincent Aviation Saab 340 paid a visit to Masterton in February, at which time it took a group of Wairarapa VIPs on a flight over the region.


  1. Masterton council have just announced they have decided on Vincents to provide their airservice .Great news for Wairarapa People .hope they support it .