Kiwi Regional Airlines tossing up Tauranga and Napier flights
After canning its Queenstown service Kiwi Regional Airlines is now tossing up flights to Napier or Tauranga.
Kiwi Regional Airlines chief executive Ewan Wilson said it would announce a new destination in its network in early December with flights due to begin in late February.
The most logical destinations were Nelson to Napier or Nelson to Tauranga, he said.
"We're looking seriously at both of them," Wilson said.
On Wednesday the airline announced it was cancelling its twice weekly return service from Dunedin to Queenstown less than one month after launching.
The Hamilton-based airline also flies between Hamilton, Nelson and Dunedin.
The new destination would be serviced by no fewer than two flights per week, he said.
Nelson to Dunedin return flights would increase from four flights per week to five, he said.
Kiwi Regional Airlines flies a 34-seat SAAB 340A aircraft and aimed to take delivery of a second aircraft by October next year, Wilson said.
Napier mayor Bill Dalton said Sounds Air already flew Napier to Blenheim, an hour and a half drive from Nelson, and was "struggling for numbers."
But he welcomed the prospect of another airline servicing the region.
"We would welcome any competition in the Hawke's Bay skies," Dalton said.
People travelled between Nelson and Napier for both business and to visit friends and families but it was expensive because they had to fly via Wellington on Air New Zealand, he said.
"There's no competition on that route so it's always been a very expensive operation."
Sounds Air director Andrew Crawford said its Napier to Blenheim flights were launched on November 5 to connect Marlborough and Hawke's Bay wine regions.
Crawford said numbers on the route were fine.
"New routes take time but I'm very happy with it," Crawford said.
The route was serviced by six return flights per week using a nine seater Pilatus PC12.
Tauranga mayor Stuart Crosby said Tauranga to Nelson flights could provide an opportunity to use Nelson as a hub for other destinations in the South Island.
Tourists and people visiting friends and family would be the main traffic between the two centres, he said.
Air New Zealand flies to Tauranga from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.