Worries for Kapiti airport future as extra flights to 'stimulate' demand are dropped
Air New Zealand says it is still committed to flying from Kapiti despite reducing flights to Auckland.
Three morning flights to Auckland, added this year in an attempt to stimulate demand on the route, will be cut from August.
Airline spokeswoman Melody Brass said demand for the services failed to match the additional capacity "and we can no longer sustain these additional flights".
She said Air New Zealand was "committed to the Kapiti Coast and will continue to serve the Auckland-Kapiti Coast market".
Former airport frequent flyer Tony Froude, of Waikanae, said he used to travel regularly from Kapiti Coast Airport to Christchurch before that service was axed in February, leaving only the Auckland route.
Froude said confirmation of rumours that Air New Zealand would cut back on its Auckland flights, dropping 10am flights from Thursday and Fridays, and a morning flight from Sunday, was bad news for the community.
"My fear is that it will disappear, because if you cut your services back enough, that's how you kill it. With enough reductions people would start going to Wellington or Palmerston."
Froude said increased domestic flights running from Wellington Airport showed the carrier had lost interest in flying from Kapiti.
He was worried Kapiti airport majority owner Todd Corporation would be "probably be quite happy" to develop the land, in central Paraparaumu, into houses.
The airport is part of the 125-hectare Kapiti Landing business and retail park, being developed by Todd Property, an arm of the Todd Corporation.
Todd Property managing director Evan Davies said the company currently had no plans to close the airport and was working on a plan to replace the control tower.
He said the airline had informed it about the "small reduction" in return Auckland flights from August.
Economic growth in the region was important for the airport's future viability, he said, with Kapiti Landing and the company's investment in the airport contributing to this.
The Kapiti Landing development includes Mitre 10 Mega, New World and Smiths City, as tenants and is near the central Paraparaumu interchange for the Kapiti expressway.
The expressway replaces the current section of State Highway 1, and will likely to open by the end of this year.