13 May 2020

Taupō Seeks Service Resumption

Flights cancelled to a tourist hot-spot in the North Island have been reconsidered by Air New Zealand after a desperate mayor's pleas. Last week, Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said the airline would operate about 20 per cent of its normal domestic capacity in level 2 but flights to and from Taupō were not on the list. After hearing this, Taupō mayor David Trewavas pleaded with Air NZ to rethink and fortunately, they heard his pleas. “We had a conversation. They haven't confirmed when they will start, but they have given me an idea and it's not waiting until level 1 which is great,” he said. With the country close to moving into alert level 2, Air NZ's decision to cancel flights to and from Taupō until demand increased, caused concerns for Trewavas as many businesses in the lake-side town are reliant on tourists. But with borders closed, those shops are now reliant on domestic travellers.  “It would have had a major impact on us, especially with the ski-season about to begin,” he said. “Businesses are going to be up and running in level 2 so for the business community, it would have been very difficult. “The nearest airport to us would mean a drive from Napier or Tauranga.” Trewavas said it wasn't just the local businesses that would be affected but also the airport staff along with the car rental companies based at the airport, and the café staff. But a major concern for Trewavas was how the decision would affect the government's recent announcement of the airport terminal's $5.8million upgrade and expansion. “It's so good they have reconsidered. It would have been a big impact all round,” he said. When Trewavas voiced his concerns over the cancelled flights, Sounds Air was looking at stepping in to do the routes but will now just be covering their own ones from this coming Monday. The airport is home to commercial passenger transport, tourism, agricultural, and recreational aviation and is also the base for the GreenLea Rescue Helicopter that services the Central North Island. A spokesperson for Air NZ said they are regularly reviewing their network as customer demand improves. “We expect to make an announcement on when we can resume Taupō-Auckland services in the near future.”

Source : https://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/121500482/taup-mayors-pleas-heard-by-air-nz

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