21 April 2020

Support for Sounds Air

A petition to 'Save Sounds Air' shows the Marlborough-based airline has the support of the community, even if it hasn't yet had the support of Government. The petition, launched by Kaikōura National MP Stuart Smith on Monday, has called for the Government to support Sounds Air through its $600 million aviation sector relief package. As of 4pm on Tuesday, the petition had collected more than 14,000 signatures. Sounds Air chief executive Andrew Crawford said they first had contact with Transport Minister Phil Twyford on March 18, indicating regional aviation needed to be supported. "We're trying to access the aviation support package which is for regional aviation, and keep that connectivity going." He said further correspondence with the Government in the last couple of days had looked more promising.  "What we are trying to do is get through this time and get through the next year to 18 months. It's looking a lot more promising, certainly the correspondence we've had in the last day calls for encouragement." At present, all 80 staff at Sounds Air were still employed and "on the books", Crawford said.  He said the support from those that had responded to the petition had been "amazing". "The support is overwhelming, Stuart [Smith] came to me and said 'I would like to get this petition going'. It's really amazing, it goes to show what support there is for that regional connectivity." Smith said without support from the Government, there would be some major consequences around connectivity in New Zealand.  "It's a short piece of water between here and the North Island, [but] it's a very important transport link, and Sounds Air provides a much needed service to get across there," Smith said. "We don't want a monopoly stake in any kind of transport link, if it can be helped. "I just hope that people are supportive of the petition, but further than that, assuming we get Government to support this link and we come out on the other side, remember that the best thing you can do in the long term, when you travel, choose to fly, or at least consider Sounds Air and support them in that way. "Because that is the best way forward. They were already successful." Sounds Air provided links such as Blenheim to Wellington, Blenheim to Paraparaumu, Blenheim to Christchurch, Wellington to Westport, Wellington to Taupo and Wellington to Nelson.  "Or we have the long alternative routes. Without Sounds Air, to get to Taupō or Napier, you would have to fly from here [Blenheim] to Auckland, to then fly back down to Taupō." To sign the petition, visit change.org and type 'Save Sounds Air'. 


  1. If sounds air get taxpayer funding, then all other aviation businesses should expect to receive an equivalent amount. They're a commercial operation just like every other charter operator, maintenance provider, parts supplier, fuel company. The $600m funding is slated for air freight operations to support the entire countries industry and move product to market or for export. What market will sounds air have when we move out of lockdown?

  2. Due to Soundsair predominately passenger only business model, it is not classified as 'essential' operator unlike Air Chatmans, Barrier Air, etc to receive subsidies. Unfortunately, Soundsair needs to start thinking outside the square and starting planning for Alert level 1 operations even if it means going back to original core business model - flying between Wellington and Koromiko (Picton).

    At Alert level 2 - could Soundsair operate with at least 1 mtr spacing on the PC12s and Caravans?

    As I have always said, the main 2nd and 3rd level airlines need to form a 2nd level regional airline network and brand, so they collectively has a stronger voice to local and central government.

  3. Post pandemic, businesses will need to stand on their own two feet again. The world changes, markets evolve, history is littered with now defunct airlines and charter companies. Doesn't make it any less distressing though

    A stronger voice to government may get handouts, but it will not create a sustainable business if the market is just not there anymore

    The wage subsidy is very welcome and necessary for the short term, but it will not help those operators who are not sustainable in the long term

    Why do sounds air so desperately need a bailout? Are their levels of debt too high to service to let them ride out a relatively short term downturn? Will pumping money in just exacerbate the situation, will that further increase their debt? Or is their expectation any funding will be a gift from the taxpayers of New Zealand?

    Where are the petitions from Air chats, barrier, originair, sunair, golden bay, garden city, air wanganui? These companies are just as important to the economy and infrastructure of New Zealand as sounds air

  4. This post is not meant to insult anyone but I think it is extremely unfair that Sounds get a bailout but no one else does. Yes, Chathams, Barrier and Napier are getting money to fly freight services but this is a short term thing which wont save them. By Sounds recieving this money then every other third level operator in NZ should be entitled to the same package pro rated. For an old established operator Sounds appear to carry large debt. To be talking receivership 3 weeks into the lock down means that they clearly have no rainy day money. All that said, I wish all the 3rd level operators the best of luck including Sounds Air.

    1. Agreed. If they are in such a precarious position to be talking about receivership so soon, is propping them up just delaying the inevitable? The National Party press release stating “Some businesses are too important to let fail and Sounds Air is one of them." was insulting to all other operators

      Was their petition for a handout successful?