16 June 2019

Having a Look See at Masterton

Air Chathams is interested in operating air passenger services from Masterton Airport but will only do so if there is significant local support. In response to questions from the Times-age yesterday, Air Chatham General Manager Duane Emeny confirmed the airline had been in talks to operate in Masterton, and had put in a registration of interest when Masterton District Council [MDC] called for them late last year. A document on a government tender site last November said the Wairarapa community and council were seeking registrations of interest because both the Masterton District and Wairarapa region were experiencing strong growth in business and population. Emeny said support from MDC would be essential for a deal to proceed. Depending on the type of aircraft operated, work on the runway could be required, he said, but he would not give further details. The air service would be scheduled and would operate from the existing terminal but Emeny said discussions had not got down to details about what kind of planes would operate or the frequency of the service. There was no timeline for a deal to be done and the airline says it would need to see a significant investment and support package prior to agreeing to provide any service. "We would be interested if it makes sense commercially. That ultimately rests with the investment and support," he said. "The airline has not made any decisions on this service provision at all and does not want to give any false hope to the community." The airline has been operating on the Chatham Islands for more than 25 years and an Auckland base runs services to Whakatāne, Whanganui and the Kapiti Coast. It was interested in Auckland to Masterton services in 2014 after Air New Zealand pulled out but Masterton District Council picked Vincent Aviation, which collapsed soon after. MDC would only say that it was in "very early discussions" with a potential service provider. The tender document last year said local businesses and outside businesses operating in Masterton had expressed a desire to support a carrier operating into the town. It says the council wished to conduct the project in a collaborative and open manner with potential suppliers. It talks about "some sort of financial contribution from council" and a due diligence to protect any ratepayer contribution. Air New Zealand established a regular Masterton-Auckland daily service in 2009 but pulled the plug in early 2014. An air passenger service linking Masterton and Auckland operated by Vincent Aviation was due to restart in mid-November of that year but the airline went bust. The council's decision to choose Vincent Aviation meant there was no immediate need for a runway extension for which $180,000 had been ear-marked had Air Chathams won the day. Wairarapa's passenger air service history is a chequered one, with Wairarapa Airlines finally opting out in 1997, having failed in its bid to make the Masterton-Auckland route profitable. It was followed by Air Wairarapa, which was short-lived and failed financially, and, subsequently, the Air New Zealand-backed Eagle Air service.


  1. Vincent were going to operated their Saab which, acording to vincent... required no upgrade to the airport... Air Chats now has Saabs, could they go for it and use the Saab or will it be a little to tight having all three Saabs in operation at once?

    1. CAR has changed (or at least the way they are interpreted or enforced) since Vincent were going to operate.

    2. Civil Aviation Rules/Regulations. MRO is now non-certificated, and has a short runway bound by Manaia Road at one end and the river at the other. Its prospects of becoming compliant for Metro or larger - even with District Council involvement - cannot be likely. The Council is trying to develop the field (anyone interested in the level of work involved should read
      for an education in what is needed these days). Air Chathams is no doubt prudently keeping an eye on this in case some underwritten viable commercial opportunity is created.

  2. If Air Chats go to MRO, it will be Metro ops to start with

  3. That was on my mind too, best to grow it with the Metro.

    Hey Steve....

    Going on from your post on Masterton and Eagle air....
    They actually had a good service and time slot initially with good patronage didn't they??? Before they changed the time slots. You reckon it can work