Plans for Air Chathams to begin operating the Paraparaumu – Auckland route from Kapiti Coast Airport have been discussed between the airline, Air New Zealand and Kapiti Coast mayor K Gurunathan. Craig Emeny, Chief Executive Officer of Air Chathams, has stated that the company are ‘very interested’ in taking over the route. Air New Zealand have previously said that they support any other airline that chooses to operate the route.
Kapiti Coast residents have been disappointed after Air New Zealand’s decision to end their Auckland bound flights from Kapiti was released to the public earlier this month. Talks may take some time as the runway at Kapiti Coast Airport is privately owned, requiring more negotiation.
The airline will be able to operate their Saab aircraft at the airport. The Air Chatham fleet has fifteen planes, of which three are Saab 340s, each holding thirty-four passengers. This is a slight downsize on the Air New Zealand aircraft, the Bombadier Dash 8, with the capacity to hold fifty passengers.
The performance ability of the aircraft has been looked into and a few potential obstacles were found. In order for Air Chathams to begin services between Auckland and Paraparaumu, traffic lights may need to be installed on Kapiti Road. These traffic lights will only be used for a maximum performance take-off, and should not affect the Kapiti public in any major way.
The lights would only be required about 10 times as a week, an approximation made by the airline, and is a compromise locals should be willing to make.
Chatham Airlines was founded in 1984 and are family owned. They mainly offer services from the islands of the same name to mainland New Zealand, but they also operate Auckland to Wanganui flights, as well as Auckland to Whakatane. With the exception of the prospective Auckland route, Kapiti Coast Airport has just two destinations – Blenheim and Nelson, both with either Air2there or Sounds Air.