06 December 2016
Filling the Gap
Sounds Air will offer more flights between Blenheim and Christchurch this Christmas as travellers look skyward to save themselves time on the long inland bypass. The collection of highways connecting Christchurch and Blenheim through the Lewis Pass has become the defacto main route following the closure of parts of State Highway 1. But the added distance, an extra 150 kilometres, combined with the amount of heavy vehicles using the road has made flying an attractive option for Christmas travellers. Marlborough airline Sounds Air is the only company offering direct flights between Blenheim and Christchurch, after the national carrier, Air New Zealand, pulled out of the route earlier this year. Managing director Andrew Crawford said the airline planned to offer about 20 more flights over the Christmas period, in addition to its scheduled morning and afternoon return options. "Usually I would expect the Blenheim-Christchurch route to die down over Christmas because it's predominantly a business sector," Crawford said. "But I think we're seeing more people, holidaymakers, that are going, 'we just don't want to drive'. "We're providing a 45-minute alternative to an eight-hour drive." Crawford said demand for the service was likely to continue as long as SH1 remained out of action, with the company also extending its flights in and out of Kaikoura. Sounds Air had committed to offering the service, between Blenheim, Kaikoura and Christchurch, until January 10 and would review its decision before Christmas. The only road access in and out of Kaikoura was on the Inland Rd, which was still limited, so Crawford said he expected demand to continue for some time, especially on the Blenheim-Kaikoura sector. Landing fees on its Kaikoura flights had been waived for two months by both Christchurch and Marlborough airports, as well as Airways New Zealand fees, which helped keep prices down, Crawford said. An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said the airline was conscious of the impact of the earthquakes and was liaising with the Government around recovery efforts. However, she said they had no plans to re-instate direct Blenheim-Christchurch flights, which were cancelled earlier this year due to a lack of demand. A Jetstar spokesman said the airline had not investigated flying between Nelson, or Blenheim, to Christchurch and had no plans to enter into new routes.
Source : http://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/news/87195215/sounds-air-offers-additonal-christmas-flights-as-travellers-look-to-avoid-inland-bypass, 5 December 2016
Posted by Steve L at 7:43 AM