25 June 2015

Kiwi Regional Lining Up for Take Off

New air service Kiwi Regional Airlines has announced the routes it will fly with its first aircraft and a start date. It will run its first passenger service on September 27, and each day will start with a return Dunedin-Queenstown flight, says its chief executive, Ewan Wilson. The aircraft, a SAAB 340A 32-seat twin-engine turboprop model, will then fly mid-morning to Nelson direct from Dunedin, a route that has not been flown previously by a scheduled service, but which it says connects the country's premier fishing industry ports, and the two largest South Island cities outside Christchurch. Kiwi Regional Airlines has announced the first four routes it will operate daily, from September 27. From Nelson, Kiwi  will fly return to Hamilton in the middle of the day. It says this refreshes a connection flown by thousands of passengers annually on both Origin Pacific and Air New Zealand until 2008. The former, however, used 19-seater planes, Wilson said. "We believe with us operating it in better-fit aircraft, it's a very economical way of capturing the market." The flight then returns from Nelson to Dunedin mid-afternoon, before repeating the Dunedin-Queenstown return flight in the early evening. Wilson said he was "very pleased at the progress Kiwi is making". "Our Civil Aviation Authority certification is well under way, key personnel have  been appointed, airports are being negotiated with, aircraft purchase steps are nearing fruition and now we have finalised our first route. "Our route is an exciting one, different from all other airlines, and we expect will be well-supported by the communities it serves." Kiwi intends to add a second aircraft, and additional routes, within the next 12 months, he said. Kiwi produced a draft flight route proposal in February that suggested an Auckland-Hamilton link was on the cards, but Wilson has said Kiwi won't compete with Jetstar and Air NZ. "Air NZ continues to service Auckland [from Hamilton] until early next year, our position may change once they have departed the scene, but we're taking a very conservative approach."

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