05 March 2010

Masterton-Auckland Air Link Well Supported

Source : www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/local/wairarapa-news/3399658/

A year on and few can doubt what a success the new Masterton-to-Auckland air link has proved to be. Masterton Mayor Garry Daniell and Trust House chairman Brian Bourke were at the Masterton terminal early on Thursday for a brief celebration of the service's first anniversary. Like any other normal day, the flight was near capacity demonstrating that Wairarapa people are truly getting on board. Mr Daniell's council was instrumental in pushing for the air service and he is glad to see the benefits it is bringing to the region. "It has clearly been a very successful year when times have been a little difficult throughout the country. I'm just delighted it has been supported. People have been very enthusiastic about the plane and its ability to get them to Auckland. Hopefully the success of this service will lead to other flights." Air New Zealand has said that it is not planning any more flights or new routes at this point. Trust House gave $300,000 towards the construction of the terminal and has the naming rights for the building. Trust chairman Brian Bourke was also on hand for the small celebration and said he was glad to see the link we dong so well. Businessman Gareth Norris says he uses the link for both business and personal reasons. With a young family, the air link allows him to see his wife and children in the morning before heading off and he can be back at home the same evening. He used to fly out of Palmerston North so the new Masterton service also cuts down travel time by three hours. Craig McBride of Masterton has a new job with a maths online learning business, Maths Buddy, and he envisages using the Masterton-Auckland air link frequently. "I would say I will be using this about once a fortnight," he says. The current flight schedule suits his situation but he too would like to see a Christchurch link included from Masterton. All passengers on Thursday's flight got a little goody box with chocolates and shortbread as they boarded. Almost 10,000 people have now used the service equivalent to half the population of Masterton. Terminal manager John Lapslie says they have serviced 583 flights in and out of the airport averaging 16-17 passengers per flight. The Beech aircraft have a capacity of 19 passengers. Mr Lapslie says the flights in from Auckland are invariably full while the number on the flights out varies. He says the passenger levels have been remarkably consistent and didn't drop off much in winter. "I thought winter would be low, but it's been good all year around so it's not reliant on the weather." Only one flight has been affected due to bad weather, but there have been occasions when Air New Zealand has had to bus passengers to Palmerston North because the evening flight has arrived too late to allow the pilots their mandatory 10-hour turnaround time for the morning flight out. The terminal building itself has proved ideal as it accommodates a small crowd before flights

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