07 August 2015
Originair all set for next week's take off
New airline Originair looks set to have a full cabin bound for Palmerston North when it launches from Nelson Airport for the first time next week. Originair managing director Robert Inglis said interest in the direct route between Nelson and Palmerston North had been "as expected" since tickets went on sale last month. He said the first flight leaving on Wednesday was "pretty much loaded". "You have to be out there flying for a couple of months to be visible to the public... but I have certainly seen reservations for [flights] next week have picked up quite markedly," he said. The airline will fly twice daily between Nelson and Palmerston North on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and once on a Sunday. Inglis said he would look to increase the schedule to six days a week during the summer. The airline, which has two 19-seat Jetstreams, would also commence a route between Nelson and Wellington in September, but Originair's primary focus at the moment was on the Palmerston North link - a route dropped by Air New Zealand in April. "Those two routes are well suited to the gauge of aircraft we operate - they're both relatively short sectors that suit the aircraft," said Inglis. Flying direct to Palmerston North had generated interest from both businesspeople and Massey University students since Air New Zealand dropped the route, said Inglis. The only way to fly to Palmerston North from Nelson with Air New Zealand was via another main centre, predominantly Christchurch. "For the business community they really don't want to lose that much of the the day [travelling] and it's only a short 40-minute flight [between Nelson and Palmerston North]," he said. Inglis also noticed interest from the recreational market visiting the Nelson region for leisure. "If someone's only got a weekend away they don't want to use a big chunk of the weekend travelling." The airline is also offering chartered flights, particularly for sports teams and businesses. "We have already had a number of reservations from teams travelling at times when Air New Zealand schedules don't perhaps suit their requirements," he said. Despite flying to Wellington like Air New Zealand, Inglis said Originair was not there to compete. "This isn't any major challenge to Air New Zealand, we're just providing a bit of choice for Nelsonians," he said. "Palmerston North is providing some more opportunity and [flying to Wellington] for us is really just rounding out the day in terms of aircraft and crew." Originair is one of six airlines taking off from the region as new players in the market have announced their intentions to fly from Nelson. Kiwi Regional Airlines recently announced they would start a direct route between Nelson and Hamilton and Nelson and Dunedin at the end of September, while Jetstar is also considering Nelson to be a regional destination. "As far as I'm aware Nelson is the busiest regional airport - that makes it attractive to airlines," said Inglis. Kiwi Regional Airlines is yet to open a reservation department to the public, but its chief executive officer Ewan Wilson said he believed the routes would be well supported. He said the airline would likely announce the opening of reservations and dates for flights to commence next week. Jetstar is expected to announce its four new regional destinations in September when fares go on sale ahead of its first flights taking off in December. As the additional airlines look set to establish themselves in the region, Nelson Airport is also preparing for the new airlines. A new check-in facility and two counters are nearing completion and will be opened in time for Originair's first flight.
Posted by Steve L at 6:38 PM