01 September 2015

Announcing the arrival of Kiwi Regional Airlines

Kiwi Regional Airlines' Saab 340 ZK-KRA arrived into a damp Hamilton today...
but the weather didn't dampen Ewan Wilson's enthusiasm. Good luck for the launch of services Ewan!

It was a wet but colourful welcome as Kiwi Regional Airlines' first passenger aircraft touched down in Hamilton. An expectant crowd of about 100 lined the large glass panels at Hamilton Airport's terminal as Kiwi's SAAB 340A arrived just before 1pm on Tuesday. A favourable tailwind saw the 34-seat aircraft arrive slightly ahead of schedule. Despite the inclement weather, the aircraft received a further showering as two fire trucks gave the plane a traditional water salute. Kiwi Regional Airlines chief executive Ewan Wilson said it was thrilling to see the name "Kiwi' back in the skies over Waikato and was eager to examine the aircraft's new green and blue paint job. "Seeing the plane arrive sent a shiver down my spine considering all the hard work that's happened up to this point," Wilson said. "To see the plane with your livery on it touch down in a city you're passionate about is a special feeling." Many onlookers came dressed in colourful outfits as part of a competition to win free return tickets. The company's head office will be in Hamilton. Kiwi currently employs eight staff but that will increase to 19 by October. The airline's first commercial flight is scheduled for October 27 and includes twice daily flights between Dunedin and Queenstown, as well as four return flights weekly between Dunedin and Nelson, and Nelson and Hamilton. Wilson said a lot of discussion had been made on Jetstar's decision to leave Hamilton and Rotorua off its regional network but Kiwi's launch showed there was room for more players in the domestic aviation market. "Our point of difference is we're flying region to region. We have no desire to take on the likes of Jetstar or Air New Zealand on the main trunk. In some ways we believe we're complementing the other airlines and we hope in years to follow that passengers may move between the carriers. People may choose to fly internationally into Queenstown and then fly us to Dunedin." Mark Morgan, Hamilton Airport's acting chief executive, said it was "fantastic" to have another airline operating from Hamilton, more so because Kiwi would fly routes not currently being serviced. Airport management were keen to work with the region's stakeholders to support Kiwi to grow its market presence. Wilson launched  Kiwi International Airlines in 1994 offering a no frills "nuts and cola" trans-Tasman service. The budget airline captured the imagination of the travelling public, but collapsed in 1996. Councillor Martin Gallagher, representing Hamilton City Council, said it was wonderful to see Kiwi "alive and kicking" and commended the airline for basing themselves in Hamilton. Kiwi's network would help join up the regions, Gallagher said. The airline's online and telephone reservations system was launched in August, with Wilson saying there was already good interest in the Hamilton to Nelson route. "Today's an incredibly emotional day and really it's just the end of the beginning. The Waikato and I have had a long journey over the last 20 years and to see Kiwi back outside the Hamilton terminal is a very proud moment."

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