12 May 2017

Whanganui Plane a Possibility

A chance to promote Whanganui as a tourist and business destination by turning an Air Chathams plane into a flying billboard is an opportunity too good to miss. That's the view of Annette Main, former district mayor, and several others who have discussed the idea on social media. "I floated it before I stepped down as mayor and there was a lot of enthusiasm," Ms Main told the Chronicle. But the project did not get off the ground. Ms Main says she is not sure what happened, but hopes somebody - "perhaps a councillor" - may pick up and champion the idea. That somebody might be district councillor Josh Chandulal-Mackay who noticed an Air Chathams Metroliner at Whanganui Airport this week promoting Whakatane. "I noticed that this Air Chathams ZK-CIC features promotional branding from the Whakatane district. From a promotional perspective, it would make sense for Whanganui to push for similar branding. What do you think?" he wrote. He added that he would investigate options with Whanganui and Partners - council's economic development arm - and other appropriate avenues. "I'll also contact the Whakatane District Council to request info regarding their decision to utilise promotional branding on the metroliner. "It might also be worth suggesting that a report be tabled at the next property and community services meeting at council." Another keen to see the idea take off is MP Chester Borrows who told the Chronicle it would be a good use of local money. "I'd love to see it," Mr Borrows said. "It's certainly something that should happen and I believe will happen. I think it's a very good use of our money. "When you're in Auckland and you see the Whakatane plane sitting out there in its livery it really turns heads because it looks so different. "I think a plane sheathed in Whanganui native forest and river scenes would be really beautiful." Air Chathams chief executive Duane Emeny said the company was keen to play ball. He estimated that it would cost between $40,000 and $50,000 to wrap the company's Saab in promotional livery. "When you're taxiing around in Auckland you can see the heads turn when people see this bright orange aeroplane with the White Island volcano sitting on the side of it - it's quite effective," Mr Emeny said. "We would need to take it out of operation for a week but that can be done. We are open to fresh discussions." Mr Emeny said Air Chathams split the cost with Whakatane to wrap its Metroliner. "They were looking at spending 25k on a billboard for one month at Auckland airport." In contrast the Metroliner cost $20,000 to wrap and the livery would last five years. "A flying billboard is a much better option." Mayor Hamish McDouall said council was open to looking at the idea again. "I understand it doesn't cost too much to dress a plane and it is nice to think of an iconic Whanganui image sitting on the Auckland tarmac, and being the first thing inbound tourists see," Mr McDouall said. "Having said that it's all about finding budget, and making sure that we are getting the best marketing bang for our buck." Whanganui and Partners was not immediately available for comment.

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