16 January 2015

Whakatane Looking at Air Chathams Proposal

Air Chathams was in town on Wednesday to talk about providing an air service between Whakatane and Auckland when Air New Zealand pulls out in April. Following a request for proposals last year, exploratory discussions on a replacement air service are progressing well, according to Whakatane District Council. Strategy and economic development general manager Julie Gardyne said council staff were working with the management of Air Chathams with a view to having scheduled services in place when Air New Zealand withdraws from the route at the end of April. Air Chathams management representatives were in Whakatane as part of a due diligence process. They met with a range of council staff to discuss technical matters and also met with Mayor Tony Bonne and East Coast MP Anne Tolley. “At this stage, it’s too early to comment in detail on the proposal, but we believe Air Chathams’ twin-engine, turbo-prop aircraft will provide a quality service on the Whakatane-Auckland route,” Ms Gardyne said. “We’re working through a number of logistical and technical matters and anticipate that we will be able to report on the proposal to the council within the next few weeks.” The Beacon understands the proposal will be presented to councillors in the public-excluded section of a meeting on January 27. Air Chathams was established in 1984 by Craig and Marion Emeny and operates scheduled air services between the Chatham Islands and Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, as well as local charters. According to the company’s website, it has grown from operating small piston-engine aircraft to large 50-seat two-engine turbo-prop aircraft, and has played a major part in allowing the Chatham Islands fishing economy to compete globally. It operates a number of different aircraft including the 50-seater Convair 580 and a 19-seater Metroliner. However, it is not one of these aircraft that carried airline officials to the Eastern Bay on Wednesday, it was a DC3. Following its Whakatane stopover the totally restored vintage aircraft headed to Wings over Wairarapa in Masterton.

Source : Whakatane Beacon, 16 January 2015

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