Airports still in the dark over Kiwijet plans

Last updated 00:00 31/07/2007

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Proposed new budget airline Kiwijet says it's on track to set up its low cost domestic service in New Zealand but local airports say they know little of its plans.

Kiwijet founder American Patrick Weil said the airline had financing to operate seven jets on regional routes between nine cities.

The jets would begin operating here late next year and be based at Christchurch International Airport.

But the airport's chief executive Rene Baks said today there had been no dialogue between Kiwijet and airport management.

"We haven't had any discussions at this stage with any other operator. We would be pleased to see another domestic operator. . ." he said.

Mr Baks said his knowledge of the Kiwijet proposal came from media reports about it a few months ago.

Kiwijet said in a statement last week it would fly to and from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Invercargill, Palmerston North, Tauranga and Nelson.

An Auckland Airport spokeswoman said today management had expected to be approached by Kiwijet, but that was yet to happen.

Kiwijet said it had tried to acquire Qantas' Jetconnect operation in New Zealand but that proposal was turned down last month.

The situation had forced changes in the airline's proposal, but it was still going ahead.

The company would use 50-seater Embraer jets and had already pencilled in flight schedules at Auckland and Christchurch that would coincide with international flights from other airlines.

The jets would provide a faster and more comfortable option over the "existing slow, vibrating, noisy and turbulent propeller airplanes of the national carrier".

Passengers would get to sample local beer and wine.

"Unlike the competition, our guests will never have to open their wallets while onboard," the company said.

Passengers would be charged a flat rate and flights between Auckland and Christchurch would be as cheap as $59 on a first-in first-served basis.

Kiwijet said company representatives would be in New Zealand later this year to give public presentations on the proposal.

The company has registered a website in New Zealand and said it would go live from November this year.

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- NZPA

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