09 June 2016
Sounds Air to Christchurch - "Likely" Boarding
A private airline is likely to fill the void left by the national carrier when it stops one of its regional routes next month, its managing director says. Sounds Air managing director Andrew Crawford said both Christchurch Airport and Marlborough Airport had provisionally agreed to the company starting a Blenheim-Christchurch route. The airline was weighing up costs and developing a proposal before a decision was reached, which Crawford said was expected to be announced early next week. "It's a matter of looking at all the costs and working out the income and potential clientele, and then making a decision," he said. "But it's very likely." Air New Zealand announced it was dropping its Blenheim-Christchurch and Whanganui-Auckland routes last month because of a lack of demand for the services. It had just increased capacity on the Blenheim-Christchurch route, which was stopping on July 31, replacing its 19-seater Beechcraft 1900D aircraft with 50-seater Bombardier Q300s in early May. Sounds Air had also taken over other regional routes abandoned by Air New Zealand, including those between Westport and Taupo to Wellington. Crawford said they were very pleased with the performance of both routes. The Marlborough airline, which had been flying for nearly 30 years, expected to carry a total of 100,000 passengers this year, up from 14,000 in 2003. Marlborough Airport chief executive Dean Heiford said Marlborough residents would benefit from Sounds Air starting the service, as it would provide a direct flight to Christchurch. If they did not step in, passengers would have to fly via Wellington, increasing the flight time from 50 minutes to 90 minutes with the quickest transfer time in the capital. "In principle we've agreed Sounds Air can provide that service out of Marlborough Airport," Heiford said. Air Chathams would fill the gap on the Whanganui-Auckland route, offering a service after July 31.
Posted by Steve L at 6:52 PM