05 November 2015
Wine Country Air Service
This morning Sounds Air commenced their new air route between Blenheim and Napier. The inaugural services, northbound SDA712 and southbound SDA713, were flown in Pilatus PC-12 ZK-PLZ under the command of Tim Johnson. Three passengers flew to Napier with eight on the return flight to Blenheim.
When Sounds Air chief executive Andrew Crawford arrived in Napier aboard the inaugural direct flight from Blenheim this morning he was not too bothered by the cool winds and overcast skies which greeted him. "It's blues skies and sunny in Blenheim - and we can be there in an hour," he said with a smile. The Pilatus PC12 turbine-propeller aircraft had made good time on its maiden journey to Napier and landed about 10 minutes early. "Good tail wind," Mr Crawford said. He and two airline representatives along with two passengers made the inaugural flight but the return flight was a full house - the dozen seats were booked out. "Yes it's a full flight so that is very pleasing." He said the airline's booking figures showed that 28 percent of passengers booked 24 hours before they intended to fly, so while some bookings further out were not so strong he expected them to go well. It was a service which would build up over time, he said. Mr Crawford said he made a point of being aboard any new service flight and was delighted with how it had all come together. He said the airline had been able to secure a leased aircraft at "a good rate" to bring the start date for the service forward - it was originally going to be next March. A smart purpose-build check-in counter had also been established. "It is good for us to get it under way at this time of the year," he said, adding that the imminent holiday season would blend in with the business sector. Among those travelling yesterday was Boyd Gross, a director of valuation and property services company Logan Stone. "This is a great service," he said. "We make something like 30 to 40 trips down there a year." He said business trips could now be undertaken in one day whereas used to be two - due to lack of direct flights. "It saves a lot of hours and that is so valuable." Villa Maria viticulturist Ollie Powrie was also making the trip south as it was a direct link to the Marlborough winemaking region. "It's a great new service," he said. An airport spokesman said the company was looking forward to working in with Sounds Air and thanked Havelock North businessman John Stace for his "passion and enthusiasm in working to bring them here". After Mr Crawford cut the ribbon to allow the passengers through the doors to the tarmac and the waiting aircraft, check-in manager Phil Kane made the announcement - "the inaugural flight to Blenheim is about to depart - please board from Gate 5." The airline is running direct morning flights to Blenheim on Mondays, Thursdays and Friday and evening flights on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.
There is a picture of ZK-PLZ at Napier at the source article :
Posted by Steve L at 12:11 PM