Direct flights to Nelson to restart
Nelson is now just 45 minutes away as Palmerston North Airport relaunches direct flights to the South Island city.
From July 12, up to 11 flights will travel back and forth between Palmerston North and Nelson a week.
It is the first time the service has been offered since 2008.
At the launch party for the new service last night, Palmerston North Airport chief executive Darin Cusack said the direct service to Nelson was among a handful of centres the airport made a case for and put to Air New Zealand.
They have been working to develop the concept for about 12 months.
"This is hopefully first cab off the rank . . . We've got to make this work.
"If we make this work we feel we have some other options to take to Air New Zealand."
Mr Cusack would not say what those other centres might be, but the airport would look at options in both the North and South islands.
"We don't want to build expectations too high, but they're outside of existing destinations that we go [to]."
Mr Cusack said that the airport had worked closely with tourism operators, both locally and from Nelson, to highlight the attractions.
He considered the "region" to include Ruapehu, Rangitikei, Whanganui, Tararua, Horowhenua and Manawatu, and had focused on what was happening in those areas, from both a business and visitor perspective.
"It's not just about saying ‘Come in through this airport', it's about the value of the region."
Air New Zealand's investment was "reasonable", not just monetarily, but also in promotional work.
"We're trying to be smart about what we do."
The 45-minute service between Nelson and Palmerston North will operate twice each week day with one return service on Sundays.
As a result, the last week day Palmerston North to Wellington service will be pushed back.
To celebrate the new leg, Air New Zealand began a "fantastic fare deal" at midnight, which runs until 11.59pm today through its website.