20 August 2018

Media Coverage of the New PPQ-AKL Service

The Kāpiti Coast's new air service is finally off - and on - the ground. Air Chathams flew into Paraparaumu Airport on Sunday, ending months of uncertainty about the future of the service following Air New Zealand's axing of the route. A powhiri greeted the Saab 340 plane as it arrived from Auckland, piloted by Craig and Duane​ Emeny, the father and son duo behind the business. The first passengers disembarking from Sunday's Air Chathams' flight in Kāpiti Airport received a formal Māori welcome. The first passengers disembarking from Sunday's Air Chathams' flight in Kāpiti Airport received a formal Māori welcome. The flight carried guests and competition winners; the first public flight would take place on Monday morning. In March, Air New Zealand announced it was axing its service between Paraparaumu and Auckland, prompting fears it could spell the end for the privately-owned Kāpiti Coast Airport. Regional Development minister Shane Jones accused the airline of abandoning the regions and Kāpiti mayor K Gurunatha​n said it left his district vulnerable in a disaster. On Sunday, Gurunathan​ said it was a good day for the district and for the many people who had lobbied for a replacement service. "It's cheesy but absence makes the heart grow fonder; you don't know what you have until it's gone and the threat of it going galvanised the public. "It's a celebration of the fact everyone pulled together what we needed, now we need to make sure it thrives." Gurunathan said the sky was the limit for the business, with untapped potential in both the Porirua and Horowhenua markets. While the officials celebrated the new service with cake and speeches, Cheryl Amos said the plane's arrival was extra special for her. The Paraparaumu woman won a competition for two fares on the maiden flight and used them to fly her grandson Kasen​,5, and his mum down from Auckland. "I'm absolutely delighted, we wouldn't have seen him until January. It's a real treat." The business will operate 36 flights a week between Auckland and Kāpiti, offering travellers up to 1152 seats per week on board its fleet of Saab 340 aircraft. In June, the council agreed to spend $150,000 to market the new service and consider further a possible subsidy; Gurunathan​ said council would try to limit the impact on ratepayers.  Airport owner's Todd Property Group said it had provided the lease free of charge for the first year, followed by a 33 per cent discount for at another two years while the Kāpiti-Auckland service was built up. "We have also offered significant discounts on other operating charges to support the successful startup of a new service."

A crowd waited at Kapiti Coast Airport this afternoon to welcome the inaugural Air Chathams flight from Auckland. It was the airline's maiden flight to the region, before commercial flights begin on Monday morning. Kapiti Coast Mayor K. Gurunathan, district council CEO Wayne Maxwell and Minister Kris Faafoi were among the guests travelling on the flight. "The community has a long-term relationship with the airport. Some of the oldies will remember in 1954 the Queen landed here – that means a lot … this relationship with the airport is very solid." Air Chathams owner Craig Emeny and general manager Duane Emeny piloted the plane to Paraparaumu. They were greeted with a pōwhiri by tangata whenua as they arrived. Local iwis blessed the airline. Air Chathams announced in July it was taking over the service and would operate 36 flights a week. It came after Air New Zealand's decision to drop the service, which caused a national outcry. Regional Development Minister Shane Jones accused Air New Zealand of abandoning the regions, while businesses also threatened to leave the town if a replacement service wasn't found. Air Chathams had the support from the Kapiti Coast District Council, Air New Zealand and the airport. Councillors voted unanimously to fund the airline by providing $150,000 over the next three years for marketing. Duane Emeny said it had been a long time coming but they were looking to the future. "After months of backwards and forwards and working things through, here we are and it's successful." Otaki MP Nathan Guy also was there to welcome Air Chathams. He held a rally at the airport earlier this year after Air New Zealand announced it was canning its service. "I'm pleased the community has rallied around Air Chathams … there's still a bit of resentment to Air New Zealand and the way they treated the community here but that's behind us now. "Maybe in the future we can get connections through to Christchurch as that would be fantastic."

Source : https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12109871

Air Chathams is confident their new Kapiti to Auckland service will be sustainable. General Manager of the family-owned airline Duane Emeny told Beach FM today that while there’s been a service gap of 3 months, as long as they provide a safe, reliable service they’re confident the community will support the route. He says it’s early days yet and the aiine has to got “build into it” but the overall community support for the airline is giving them a lot of confidence moving forward. Their first commercial flight to Auckland this morning was full and Mr Emeny says that they’re currently at about a 50% load factor going to Auckalnd this week and about 45% for the return flights. “Although that doesn’t sound amazing, it actually gives us a lot of confidence because it’s significantly better than the load factors that we had when we started both Wanganui and Whakatane,” says Mr Emeny. “The community here is very similar to Wanganui and we’ve made it work there, so the numbers are telling us it will work and it’s just a case of getting that local support but from our end we’ve got to provide a good, reliable service” Mr Emeny was asked about the reliability of the Air Chathams service, given some locals had lost faith with Air New Zealand due to frequent delays or cancellations. “I can only go on what we’ve managed to achieve in our other regional destinations and that’s well over 90% on-time performance,” says Mr Emeny. “It’s really important for a private company that we make this work, so we’re going to be putting our heart and soul into it and reliability is exactly what the customer needs – a safe, reliable service and that’s what we’ll be providing.” He says that Air Chathams wants to be viewed as the 'community airline' for the Kapiti Coast and Horowhenua region.

Source : https://www.beachfm.co.nz/single-post/2018/08/20/Community-Support-Key-to-Airline-Sustainability

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