11 February 2014

Wanganui Needs to Get on Board

Patronage of the new air link from Wanganui to Wellington is growing but the operator  says more numbers will guarantee the service. Sounds Air took over the capital city route when Air NZ axed its daily service in December due to lack of patronage. The new carrier started its service on January 21 and yesterday managing director Andrew Crawford said the initial response had been "very positive" less than a month into its operation. "We're getting some great feedback and numbers are starting to build, although we could always do with more passengers," Mr Crawford said. "Like any service, to maintain it we need passengers. If people don't support it, it will die very quickly so we are counting on great local support to keep this service operational," he said. Sounds Air's Cessna Caravan plane leaves Wanganui at 6.45am and arrives in the capital city at 7.30am, Monday to Saturday. The Cessna makes a return flight from Wellington, leaving at 6pm Sunday through to Friday. Mr Crawford said Mondays and Fridays were the most popular days at the moment, with people commuting to and from Wellington for the week. He said he was not aware of any flights being over-subscribed. He said until passengers numbers demanded it, there would be no return flight from the capital on Saturdays, nor an early-morning flight south on Sundays. "We need to see the numbers build on the existing flights before we can add extra legs. "We would like to think we can add a return flight each morning and night, so Wanganui to Wellington return in the morning and then the same again in the evening. This would open up Wanganui as a day trip option for Wellington residents and will make it a more complete service for both Wellington and Wanganui region travellers," he said. Sounds Air offers fixed fares on the route. Booking via the Internet buys an adult fare for $125 (child $115), which is $10 cheaper than a standard booking. The airline also offers a 10-trip incentive for $1180. "We've sold a few 10-trip tickets. These are always very popular on our other routes," he said. The airline has flown Cook Strait for 25 years but this was its first time it has scheduled a service through Wanganui. Mr Crawford said the decision to fly into Wanganui was made after the company had also investigated flying to Masterton. Wanganui was favoured because it had been a proven route with the national carrier and a lot longer drive.

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