Competitors campaign for air route

PIERS FULLER
Last updated 13:41 26/02/2014

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Wairarapa News

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Two small airlines are in the running to take over the Masterton- Auckland route axed by Air New Zealand last month.

Air Chathams and Vincent Aviation have both emerged as strong candidates, each with varied aircraft size and capabilities and differing business models.

A steering committee led by Wairarapa MP John Hayes with representatives from business, Masterton District Council and financiers will be considering the proposals over the next couple of weeks in the wake of Air New Zealand announcing last September that it was axing the service, citing a lack of demand and increased operating costs.

Air Chathams chief executive Craig Emeny confirmed to Fairfax Media that they had put in a bid to service the route with a 19-seat Metroliner aircraft.

He said the main advantage of his company's bid was the Metroliner's economy relative to larger 34-seat Saab that Vincent Aviation is proposing.

He said the business case was based on an average passenger load of 12, and that Air New Zealand had averaged 15.

The airline services the Chathams from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, and offers charters.

Wairarapa business owners hoping to re-establish a Masterton to Auckland air service are throwing their weight behind a partnership with Vincent Aviation.

David Borman and Colin Oldfield announced they and a group of Wairarapa business owners had commissioned an independent feasibility study on the proposed new air link which is due for completion next month.

They said they are pleased with the amount of positive public feedback they have received. Since announcing their plans to reinstate a commercially viable air service between the two centres last week, the group has received over 35 emails and dozens of phone calls from members of the public.

The study will take into account scheduling, flight costs and the potential economic impact for the region.

The group is looking into the benefits of utilising Vincent Aviation's Saab 340 aircraft which seats 34 passengers, one cabin crew and two pilots.

The proposed craft would also be available for charter flights and has been sourced for its comfort, capacity and ability to work within the confines of current infrastructure.

Vincent Aviation also has the option of using a 19-seat Jetstream aircraft on the route. Smaller aircraft would require modifications to the Masterton airstrip for safety reasons.

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- Wairarapa News

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