04 November 2015

Sounds Air's Blenheim to Napier starts tomorrow

The first Sounds Air direct flight from Blenheim to Hawke's Bay is set to touch down at 7.30am tomorrow and for one of the local businessmen who helped spark the service it can't come soon enough. John Stace, a Havelock North businessman, had effectively led the charge with other members of the business and viticulture community to get a direct service between the two premium wine-producing regions of both islands - and Sounds Air chief executive Andrew Crawford said he could see potential for such a service. It was originally planned to begin next March but the company wanted to take advantage of the Christmas and New Year leisure market so brought its plans forward. Mr Stace said his enthusiasm for the new service - six arrivals and departures four days a week - was reinforced by plans he had next week. He has to be in Marlborough for business on Wednesday - one of the days on which direct flights did not operate. He said present scheduling through Wellington by Air New Zealand, then connecting flights, meant he would arrive at his destination about five hours after leaving Napier. "I have to go that day - but if it was the Thursday I would be there direct in just one hour," Mr Stace said. "Unfortunately, I will have to wait around at Wellington for several hours." It was that scenario which first got him behind the idea of a direct service through the Blenheim-based airline to Napier. He said he flew on a Sounds Air Pilatus PC12 on a flight from Taupo to Wellington last week and it had proved "extremely fast and very comfortable". Bookings are understood to be "reasonably good" at this stage. "But it is early days and, as Andrew said, these things take time to build up - but this is being viewed as a long-term aspect of the business." He said there had been a good response from the viticulture and agricultural sector. "It's great for Hawke's Bay and I hope people support it." Hawke's Bay Airport chief executive Nick Story said the company was "very much looking forward" to working with Sounds Air. Mr Story said the direct air link between Hawke's Bay and Marlborough was great news for the Bay's wine industry in particular, and also had the potential to stimulate tourism growth in both regions. The airline will be running 8am departure flights from Napier directly to Blenheim on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, and 6.15pm departures on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.


  1. Hope it works out. The story all along though seems to have focused on things viticultural and given how often that industry falls off the edge...

  2. I'll be there tomorrow taking pictures of the arrival into Napier tomorrow evening can't make the afternoon flight

  3. I'd be intrigued to know what flights 'Mr Stace' is booked on next Wednesday. The longest connection offered next Wedneday by Air NZ works out to be 2hours 25min southbound (some longer options on the return journey though). Me thinks he is simply fond of hyperbole.