05 May 2018

Air NZ not an Option

Reinstating an air service out of Masterton would not necessarily be a panacea for Wairarapa’s transport ills, says Air New Zealand’s regional affairs manager Ian Collier. In Masterton at the invitation of the Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce, Mr Collier encouraged the community to have a conversation about an air service but said it should be considered as part of a wider look at the region’s transport requirements. “I absolutely think the conversation is worth thrashing out . . . but you need to look at it from a holistic point of view – in the past we haven’t had that,” he said. “It may be that the region is better served by rail, if money is put into it.” Air New Zealand ran a service in Masterton through its subsidiary, Eagle Air, from 2009 until it was cancelled in 2013 due to a reduction of the Beechcraft fleet of 19-seater aircraft. The smallest aircraft it flies now is a 50-seater. In 2014, Masterton District Council accepted a proposal from Vincent Aviation to operate weekday flights over its rival, Air Chathams, but the company went into liquidation later that year and the service never eventuated. Mr Collier said making the route economic and attractive to customers would be challenging. Along with a large enough customer base, an air service would have to be able to offer to attract passengers in sufficient numbers, run a schedule that was more attractive than driving to Wellington or Palmerston North where there are multiple flights each day and contend with competition among operators. “We’ve already said we don’t see a future in Air New Zealand flying in and out of Masterton,” Mr Collier said. “But we have also said there is a conversation about air services to be had.” Mr Collier said a discussion on the region’s transport needs should involve roading and rail representatives, as well as air service providers, and central government. “If we are invited to the table, we will contribute. We have a view from 35,000 feet up, and this is what we are looking down,” he said. If a smaller operator was to take up a Masterton-Auckland route, Mr Collier said it would be challenging to set up the infrastructure and systems to offer a service that allowed passengers to check-in baggage in Masterton and have that automatically transferred to a connecting Air New Zealand flight. “You have to be prepared to put your brand and reputation on the line. “If your bag doesn’t turn up, I know where you would turn to for answers.”


  1. The Council was provided with some information and facts relating to their wish for an air service earlier this year. The basis of the operation was if everything went almost perfectly there was a chance of a $100k/annum profit, if it didn't work then the losses could be in the region of $750k/annum. So the upside was low, the down side was very high and the figures just did not connect. No one was prepared to assist in any underwriting. Council also couldnt understand initially why it would be more expensive to fly MS-AA than WG-AA - they didnt get the tyranny of distance - the fact if it is 36% further then most likely it will be 36% more expensive. It goes to show that the spenders of ratepayers money dont really understand - particularly aviation. Operating a route from Masterton will always be expensive with the lack of numbers in the area. Simple facts need to be looked at constructively, without the rose tinted glasses.

  2. As an addition to the above, the promised $10,000 to be available for the feasibility study was never mentioned or forthcoming when the information provided was not to their liking. I dont mind providing solid evidence but is is kind of difficult to continue to suck lemons.

  3. Interesting to hear from someone close to the situation. Can't see a replacement service happening anymore unless they get a different council.