02 July 2018

Kapiti Air Service to Start 20 August


Air Chathams has today announced it will launch a new regional flight service between Kāpiti and Auckland, offering more flights than ever before to and from Kāpiti Coast Airport. From 20 August, Air Chathams will operate 36 flights a week between Auckland and Kāpiti, a new regional route for the family-owned airline, which will offer travellers up to 1152 seats per week on board its fleet of Saab 340 aircraft. “As an airline that is committed to the regions in New Zealand, we are absolutely delighted to be launching a new service in Kāpiti,” said Craig Emeny, the owner of Air Chathams. “We think the route has a huge amount of potential, and we are really looking forward to getting to know the local community and delivering a quality flight service that residents can be proud of.” Established in the mid-1980s on the Chatham Islands, flying live crayfish to the mainland, Air Chathams is New Zealand’s largest privately owned airline, operating more than 80 flights per week between Auckland, Whakatane, Whanganui, Wellington, Christchurch and the Chathams. As a community focused company, Mr Emeny said the Kāpiti-Auckland route was a welcome addition to its flight schedule, which had grown steadily over the years thanks to its reputation for reliability and convenience. The company’s twin-engine turboprop Saab 340 aircraft seat up to 36 passengers, with a flight attendant on board. “Making sure that we deliver a frequent and quality service that people can rely on has always been at the heart of our business operation, and we are excited about delivering an airline service that will make a positive contribution to Kāpiti’s future regional economic growth,” Mr Emeny said. A number of organisations have pitched in to support the successful start-up of the Air Chathams service, including Air New Zealand, Kāpiti Coast District Council and Kapiti Coast Airport. “We would like to acknowledge the support we have received from these organisations. They have all worked hard to offer substantial support, to ensure that a direct service from Kapiti to Auckland will resume,” Mr Emeny said. Kāpiti Coast Airport’s support has included a free premises lease for the first year, followed by a 33 per cent discount on the lease previously paid by Air New Zealand for another two years, or during the period Air Chathams is building up its Kāpiti-Auckland service. “Kāpiti Coast Airport is committed to supporting airline services, and we are really pleased that the region has managed to attract a quality service like Air Chathams,” said Evan Davies, Managing Director of Todd Property, the company that owns the airport. “We look forward to working with Air Chathams, as we continue to provide a regional airport facility that is dedicated to safety, security and customer service.” Bookings are now open for Kāpiti-Auckland flights. For information and bookings, visit Air Chathams’ website https://www.airchathams.co.nz/ or call 0800 580 127.

Source : Air Chathams Press Release

The Kāpiti Coast District Council welcomes news that Air Chathams will step in to take over the Kāpiti to Auckland air service. Tickets went on sale today on the airline’s website www.airchathams.co.nz. The service will start on 20 August using aircraft from the company’s fleet of three Saab aircraft. The Saab is a twin engine turboprop with seating capacity for up to 36 passengers. Air Chathams already operates in Auckland, Whakatane, Whanganui, Wellington, Christchurch and its Chatham Islands’ home base. Air Chathams CEO Craig Emeny says the airline is really looking forward to its first flights and to meeting its new customers from Kāpiti and beyond. “Our business is built on a real sense of involvement in the communities we serve. It’s a way of operating that’s seen us connecting regional New Zealand for over 30 years which will be a key part of our success on the Kāpiti to Auckland route too,” Mr Emeny says. “Planning for this new service has been complex, but our whole team is excited to be able to put our skill and experience to work on this new route.” Mayor K Gurunathan says the family-owned operator’s strong regional reputation is a good fit for Kāpiti. “I am absolutely delighted Air Chathams has decided to support our District’s economy and our community by offering this vital air service between Kāpiti and Auckland,” he said. The Council has agreed to support Air Chathams through the ‘Fly Kāpiti’ campaign, as the airline starts work on building a strong and loyal customer base. Council’s financial support is supplemented by initial support from Air New Zealand and longer term incentives from the Kāpiti Coast Airport. Air New Zealand will match a $50,000 investment in marketing that Council will provide through its Economic Development budget. Kāpiti Coast Airport, which is owned by Todd Property, has also offered Air Chathams a free terminal lease for the first year, along with other ongoing discounts on operating charges to support the successful start-up of a new service. Mayor Gurunathan thanked the many players involved in attracting an airline back to Kāpiti to offer this direct to Auckland service. “From the minute it was announced Kāpiti flights were being withdrawn I told Kāpiti to ‘watch this space’. Now all the hard work with business, community and government to rally support to attract and secure air services for our District has paid off. “It’s been an absolute team effort and we thank everyone involved. Kāpiti Coast Airport, Air New Zealand, our Chamber of Commerce, neighbouring mayors, ministers and MPs have all gone the extra mile to raise our profile in what’s become a national conversation about the needs of regional New Zealand,” Mayor Gurunathan said. Air New Zealand had also stepped up with offers of ongoing assistance and sharing of information and was working closely with Air Chathams, the Council and the Airport to support the new route he said. “The future economic development opportunities the link offers Kāpiti are significant. “We have a buoyant district economy and the ability for people to fly the Kāpiti to Auckland route really strengthens business, family and visitor connections and will bolster our visitor economy. “We know from our conversations with passengers on the previous service that the convenience of this direct route from Kāpiti is a big part of people’s decision-making when choosing to fly from our local airport. The calmer, pleasant travel experience Kāpiti can continue to offer, without the hassle of traffic and weather impacts of a bigger port, is a key point of difference for this service,” Mayor Gurunathan says. “I encourage everyone to think ‘Fly Kāpiti’ when making a decision to fly to Auckland.”

Press Release: Kapiti Coast District Council


  1. Good news. As suspected, Air Chathams is slowly becoming NZ's 2nd level regional airline.

    1. Hey Kris and Steve just realised.....
      Now Air Chathams and Sounds air have a common port they share and Sounds air now have a seats to suit/discount on advance bookings.. Is this now an opportunity to offer some sort of interline agreement???? Would there be any beifits for them to offer such a thing. A under the radar competition but not competing directly to Air NZ??? Whakatane to Nelson etc for just as good price as Air NZ could offer but avoiding a drive to Tauranga or Rotorua...

    2. Nope. It's no secrect that chats and airnz working together, more likely to see interline with airnz which has been mentioned by CL himself.

  2. They have bigger aircraft, but what are their total pax numbers in comparison to Sounds Air? How many routes do both operate?

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    2. So as you may or may not know.... Air Chats has (excluding commander and Cessna)
      3x 34 seat Saab340
      3x 19 seat metroIII
      5x 50 seat Convair 580
      1x 25 seat DC3
      It offers from Auckland 125000
      Whakatane 30,000
      Whanganui 40,000
      Kapiti 50,000-70,000 (pending on catchment.. infact all three pending on catchment area)

      Sounds Air
      5x 12 seat Cessna caravan 208
      5x 9 seat PC12
      It offers from Wellington 400,000ish
      Westport 4000
      Taupo 25000
      All other routes has a competitor...

      Sounds air is although based in Picton it's "other base/major base/hub" is Wellington and its pickings of the air nz dropped routes was limited to the low populations(Westport)/a cheaper alternative with the attractive,through bag and business lounge opetion not to mention international destination with Air NZ/Jetstar (Taupo)
      Air Chats is very fortunate to have a base in Auckland and along with it, they picked up the 'high patronage/high population centers' connecting with, the largest center in NZ with a major gateway to match so that will always put them ahead in comparison and future growth to Sounds Air is a small 'true 2nd level' airline and will probably never have a true opportunity to grow to the size of air chats with what it has to offer but it's an airline that can truly market itself as a boutique small "big" airline in NZ that prides itself on a huge reputation to match its small and personal/family feel that both Air Chats and Sounds have to offer over true corporate giants of Air NZ and Jetstar.

    3. 2* metro 23
      2* metro 3
      2* CV580 50 seater
      1* CV580 40 seat combi
      2* CV580 freighter
      1* Sf340b 36 seater
      2* Sf340a 34 seater
      1* Dc3 28 seater

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    5. I think it is now fair to say. Air Chats is basically a '1st level airline' in a comparison sense to Air NZ... With a sizeable fleet of large size, mulitengine, pressurised aircraft etc. It has now and to be fair, for a while now... entered league of true 1st level airliner status in NZ.. The only third "true" airliner in NZ (the others are Air NZ and Jetstar) it is basically on par with the other two, and now... it all but has an International route.... albeit pending... the Norfalk Islands...
      Kris calls it a '2nd level airline/just becoming a 2nd level airline' I think It's fair to say that it is and has been for a little while now, a level 1 airline along with Air NZ and Jetstar.
      The only thing it doesn't have.... YET... go and that is a codshare or an alliance with an airline overseas.... The only true thing I believe where, in Kris sense, that he still regards it a level two airline. But it has been operating pressurised aircraft of its size for far longer than Sounds air has and almost since from the very beginning...

    6. Yes, sure they have a number of larger aircraft and consequently a lot of seats available. But what are their actual passenger numbers flown in comparison

      Anyone can buy a whole lot of old aircraft, but it doesn't make them an airline as such until they're moving people. Are all the air chatam aircraft operational and utilised daily?

      Each time I go to Wellington or Blenheim there seems to be a lot of orange planes flying, but I don't really see the same in Auckland, maybe they blend in with all the other flights up there?

    7. Tofras444
      You are slightly out with your figure for Auckland. It's catchment population is around 1 600 000 not 125 000.

    8. Chers for that brother Jarden. Was just going off wiki. Anyway, to THE anonymous... sounds air do offer high frequency flights to Wellington via Nelson and Blenheim and mixing it with Taupo and Westport, and with the "high vis" Orange tails, they do stand out hence why you will see them all the more and let's be honest, you notice these things more in Wellington with the airport right there in a central location , all flights are visible/noticable from the city.
      Air Chats. Their flights are primarily during the business hours of early am/late pm Green planes that can blend in with the black aircraft especially the Saabs and also the Whakatane metro that dosnt have the two tone green livery, and Auckland airport being located in the south (90%flights going south) but being large aircraft, they don't need to operate high frequency.
      They have a fleet of aircraftsuperior to Sounds and they do operate them all (charter flights). They have the advantage of being based in NZs most highly populated area with a major gateway. Air Chats and Sounds air will be neck and neck passenger wise but with Kapiti and with their larger aircraft, they should be ahead passenger wise. But they are ahead to Sounds air with their larger aircraft and with the potential they have being in a very fortunate posotion they are in Auckland being their default base. End of the day high frequency 13 seaters vs 19-36/50 seat planes.
      P.s Sounds air would be very noticeable in Blenhiem as aspposed to Auckland where it's just a small corner of the domestic terminal full of Black AIR NZ

    9. I wouldn't call Air Chats a 1st level airline...

      I would class that as a national airline - in the past NAC, Air NZ - on the main trunk

      2nd level would be like Mount Cook Airlines of old - national, but not main trunk... I think now Air Chats

      3rd level - more regional... like Sounds Air

    10. Fras444, why are their aircraft superior? They have a mixed fleet of cheap and arguably, obsolete aircraft, New Zealand's Buffalo Airways! Sounds Air have a fleet of modern and very capable aircraft. I'm guessing a couple of PC-12's are probably worth more than the air chatams fleet :-)

      I respectfully disagree with your idea that if an operator has a number of large aircraft it makes them a 1st or 2nd level airline! Wouldn't the number of scheduled routes operated and passengers carried dictate their 'level'. Likewise, the locations may give vastly different catchments, but that does not necessarily translate to passengers flown

      I'm not trying to start an argument here :-) Both airlines are obviously big players in the NZ scene, are the passenger numbers published anywhere?

  3. Hey Steve. While you are here... would you like to share your thoughts on the future of Sounds air, the potential B1900 order and with it, their growth future and now... How you would see them in three to four years Time....
    Is it fair to say that they are evolutionarily stunted with limited growth due to its small centers that they fly to the only exclusive one is Westport. The others already have direct/non direct competition...
    Do they need another miracle service drop I.e Timaru or Hokitika? Are there any opportunities etc

    1. Sounds air said a year ago they were doing due diligence on a larger aircraft, and said decision would be made within a month (and to be used for WB-CH)

      This hasn't happened and doubtful it will now.

      No carrier seeks out to become a first tier / 2nd tier etc, they just take opportunity as they come up.

      I suspect that no new routes for anyone unless airnz withdraw from another port, but after the fallout from Kapiti, unlikely to happen anytime soon

    2. https://i.stuff.co.nz/travel/news/95111909/sounds-air-investigates-larger-planes-between-blenheim-and-christchurch

    3. I can't see Sounds Air getting any Beech 1900s in the immediate future. I presume it was the ex Air NZ ones they were interested in and these have all now been on sold.

      You write about HKK and TIU... from my era to the ground I hear both routes are getting good loads - as was PPQ. However given the poltical fallout of the withdrawal from PPQ I can't see Air NZ pulling out of any routes in the near future.

      In the unlikely event of them doing so a PC12 wouldn't be big enough for either route.

    4. So would it be fair to say that Sounds air have met full "maximum growth potential" unless they take a gamble with Chch and Taupo and grow these routes... They have have been and will always be "the small airline from the strait" filling the void and havnt had the prime pickings that Air Chats got population wise and being based in Auckland. Gisboune, Hoki and Timaru, the only potential growths for Sounds, all of which, doing well for Air NZ. Along with competition with 19 seat aircraft operated by Originair....

    5. There is always Omaru? Sounds Air.... With a decent Airline/aircraft offering a decent timetable and destination, Wellington vs Christchurch... and, Masterton, with a mindset of having to set up a base in Auckland... unless Sounds set something up with Air Chats so they can use the same staff and gates at Auckland.... Then.... Setting up a link between Masterton and Auckland via Taupo???(Chch-Blenheim and Masterton-Taupo-Auclannd along with 2-3 B1900 in their fleet....) Masterton is just a little to close to Wellington to make that route viable...

    6. "Small airline from the strait "???? . 300 flights a week to 9 destinations

    7. Fraser, I think Sounds Air is a niche airline for Cook Strait but flexible enough to do other routes...

      Sounds Air are struggling with competition on WLG-NSN but apart from that my sense is they are doing well.

      There is no necessity for them to expand but it is prudent for them to look at new routes if they come available.

      As for TUO-CHC, I don't think it would be a winner and it would be a long haul for a PC12.

      Possible routes that might be possible for them might be

      Also, given how air2there seem to have reduced schedules PPQ-NSN and PPQ-BHE could be expanded

    8. Sounds Air were looking at a Wellington to Greymouth service and even met up with the Mayor Tony Kokshoon about it. Don;t know why that didn't go ahead either as would be a good fit along side with their Westport route.
      Can't see them going to Masterton ever they were rejected by them last time when they offered them a service. So why try again!

    9. Sounds were also looking at a Wellington to Kaikoura route after they recently ended the temporary Blenheim service last year. That might be the next one to come.
      Can't see a Taupo to Christchurch route ever not enough demand and too long for Sounds Air.

  4. Will the use of the Saab340b mitigate the need of traffic lights? Or are they still needed and the b model was the only option.
    Is this why they happened to stumble upon a B model? Was there a little bit of insight or just real good hindsight from Air Chats??


    1. Two Saabs available... good deal!
      I presume they will still need the traffic lights