22 February 2013

Tourist Operator Establishes Another Base

The Timaru Herald reports that...
Air Safaris has completed a major development of the company's site on Twizel's Pukaki Airport. It has involved construction of a sealed turning bay off the adjacent aircraft taxiway, and a parking area for company aircraft. A large car parking and coach turning area off the airport service road has also been established to provide off-road parking and easy turning for larger vehicles. The reception and office building, formerly on a temporary site arranged on the aerodrome while awaiting subdivision completion, has been relocated to complete the new site for operations.  The company's Grand Traverse from Pukaki Airport climbs north along the Ben Ohau range gaining height to the top of the Dobson Valley and into the Aoraki/Mt Cook and Westland Tai Poutini/National Parks via the head of the Mueller Glacier.
Air Safaris, which has its main operational base at Tekapo but also operates its scenic flights from Glentanner and Franz Josef. The company is primarily a scenic/tourist operator but it has, in the past, operated a scheduled service for Air Nelson - http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.co.nz/2010/06/air-safaris-sole-schedule.html 
The new Air Safaris base is for scenic flights. However, for a short time in the 1970s Twizel had an air service. In the 1973/1974 financial year Mount Cook Airlines completed major reconstruction work at Twizel's Pukaki airfield. Pukaki, was the alternate airfield for Mount Cook and also served the Upper Waitaki Development town which with all the hydro construction had at that time some 6,000 people living there. The reconstuction included a sealed runway and taxiway providing an all-weather alternate strip for Mount Cook's Hawker Siddeley 748 aircraft.
From July 1974 Twizel was included as a stop on Mount Cook Airlines' Christchurch to Queenstown services on three days a week. These services were withdrawn from the 19th of August 1977 due to poor loadings. In the previous 12 months the airline had carried 403 people into Twizel and 925 out of the town. The airline's general manager, Mr Michael Corner, told WIngs magazine "it cost Mt Cook $100 every time an aircraft landed, and escalating operating costs, coupled with the low patronage, meant the company had no alternative but to shut down the link." 


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