19 June 2016
A Comment on Friday's Regional Airline News
Friday was a big day news for regional air services. First off the rank was the news that Air Chathams had bought Kiwi Regional Airlines certainly surprised me. The news had two dimensions - Kiwi Regional ceasing operations wasn't particularly surprising. The purchase of the Saab was! All this stole the thunder for Sounds Air's news that it was taking over Air New Zealand's Blenheim-Christchurch service.
So what does this all mean?
Kiwi Regional made a brave attempt to operate but I always thought they were like SPANZ of the 1960s. The routes were always going to be lean and it was always going to be a real challenge to fill the seats. In my opinion Nelson would have been a better base than Dunedin offering the flexibility to offer services to a number of large regional centres on one or two days a week. Anway, that is all by the by now. Well done to Ewan and his crew for giving it a go.
My flight on Kiwi Regional:
Congratulations to Craig, Duane and crew for taking this opportunity, The purchase of the Saab shows an early commitment to Whanganui/Wanganui... the same community commitment that Air Chathams has given to the Chathams and Whakatane. The move to take over Air New Zealand's service to the River City cements Air Chathams as a solid regional airline in New Zealand. With 2 Metroliners, a Saab and 3 Convairs in the fleet the airline will be able to give a flexible air service to Whakatane and Wanganui. One wonders what the second Metroliner, ZK-CID, will be used for... a spare or new routes??? Also, looking to the future, one wonders if the Air Chathams brand is the right brand for an increasingly regional airline.
My flights on Air Chathams:
Congratulations also go to Andrew and the Sounds Air crew for picking up the Blenheim-Christchurch service. Again this new route solidifies Sounds Air as an important regional airline. Andrew Crawford has said the airline is looking at any further routes but with a solid reputation as a good operator with high customer satisfaction and a network extending from Christchurch to Taupo and Westport to Napier it has come a long way from its sky ferry origins between Picton and Wellington.
My flights on Sounds Air:
The only news we didn't hear on Friday is when Originair expects to start operating again. I think Originair is wise to keep out of Wellington. There is too much competition on the the Nelson-Wellington run. The withdrawal of Kiwi Regional who has built up services from Nelson to Hamilton and Tauranga gives Originair an opportunity to become a viable airline once all the paper work has been done. I do hope, however, they get their timetable right. The Air New Zealand Nelson-Palmerston North service operated at peak time for business traffic and from what I gleaned did really well. Originair would do well to replicate it with a better business schedule than they previously operated. Then their could be services to Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier or New Plymouth in the middle of the day. I look forward to Robert and his team getting Originair airborne again.
My flight on Originair:
Posted by Steve L at 6:18 AM