This blog started off by focussing on NZ's smaller 3rd level airlines, past and present. It has evolved to trying to present some record of NZ's domestic airline operations and some of the larger charter operators, interesting NZ international airliner movements and photos I have taken around the country. Comments, corrections or contributions are welcome, Steve - firstname.lastname@example.org
22 January 2016
A Couple more on Kiwi Regional
Going into Taupo...
Kiwi Air has its sights on Taupo with a test flight next week set to gauge interest in the route. Taupo air travellers sighed in relief when their council signed a six-year deal with Sounds Air last year. The success of the Marlborough based airline, which filled the Taupo-Wellington route abandoned by Air New Zealand, along with Taupo's growth, is now being closely watched by another air operator- Hamilon-based Kiwi Regional Airlines. Kiwi Regional Airlines chief executive Ewan Wilson said nothing has been "set in concrete" but the Hamilton based-airline has been in talks with the Taupo Airport about providing Taupo flights. It already flies between Hamilton, Dunedin, Nelson, and Tauranga. Next Wednesday the airline will be breaking into its regular Dunedin-Nelson-Hamilton scheduled service to run it's first charter by whisking American rock legends Huey Lewis & The News into Taupo for the Summer Concert Tour. The airline is offering $29 seats from Taupo to Hamilton on the same day (12.45pm). Wilson said the charter would be used as a way of gauging the level of interest in providing more regular Taupo flights. "[We're] excited to be flying into Taupo for the first, and hopefully not the last time," he said. "We have often looked at Taupo and although we don't have any long-term plans set in concrete it is fair to say we are constantly reviewing and looking at how other airports fit with our future business model. Taupo is definitely on that list." He said the airline was not interested in going head to head with other providers. Taupo mayor David Trewavas said having more Taupo flights would bring more benefits to the region. "The airport is completely open to anyone as long as they meet aviation and the airport's requirements so it is very good news," he said. "Our regional growth is substantial at the moment and there has been a lot of interest from people wanting to visit so this could have a significant impact on tourism." Trewavas said the Sounds Air service, which provides at least three return flights each weekday and two return flight on Saturday and Sunday, had been well received. Despite the council agreeing to guarantee the first three seats on each flight it hadn't needed to. "Everyone that flies on it raves about it," he said. To book on the one-off flight visit flykiwiair.co.nz or phone 07 444 5020.
Kiwi Regional Air, which begins direct South Island flights from Tauranga next month, has the first flight more than half full already. The first flight into Tauranga from Nelson will be on February 15, says the airline CEO Ewan Wilson. The return flight from Tauranga to Nelson on the 34 seat Saab 340 later that day is 65 per cent booked a month out from the first flight. “Bookings have been spectacular out of Tauranga, in fact bookings out of Tauranga have outstripped bookings out of Hamilton over the last couple of weeks,” says Ewan. The airline is starting with twice weekly flights. Dunedin-Nelson-Tauranga and return on Tuesdays. On Saturdays, Kiwi will operate a Nelson-Tauranga-Nelson return same plane service around the middle of the day. Tickets for Tauranga-Nelson direct are $99 one-way, Tauranga-Dunedin tickets start at $169. “Tuesday's are particularly popular because it's the quickest way out of Tauranga to Dunedin because it's the same plane service.” If bookings continue to match expectations, the airline will look at adding extra capacity. “We wouldn't be changing aircraft, we would be adding frequency. It's a wait and see,” says Ewan. The ground handling at Tauranga will be managed by Sun Air. The airline will use the city council owned Tauranga Airport terminal and hire a counter. “We will put our sign above it while operating,” says Ewan. The airline chose Tauranga ahead of other possibilities, like Hawke's Bay and Taranaki, because of the facilities and the great potential. “There is a high proportion of our passengers ‘visiting family and friends' , and with the Bay of Plenty's population around the quarter million mark, there are a lot of family connections between this area and the South Island. “We are also aware that other larger airlines have ignored the air travel needs of Bay of Plenty residents, either missing them entirely, or forcing them to travel through Auckland and Wellington to get anywhere,” says Ewan. “The direct flights to Nelson make it much easier for both leisure and corporate travellers wanting to avoid lengthy and tiring stops in the expensive Wellington and Auckland airports. “Our region to region Dunedin-Nelson-Hamilton flights have been successful right from the start, and we expect the Tauranga-Nelson-Dunedin connection to also be as successful.”