Bombardier takes off

CHLOE WINTER
Last updated 11:30 04/03/2014
Air New Zealand Bombardier Q300
ZAR LILLEY

Air New Zealand Bombardier Q300.

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The airport expansion cannot come soon enough, as more Q300 aircraft flying in and out of Marlborough Airport create added pressure, manager Dean Heiford says.

Air New Zealand has been using a 50-seat Bombardier Q300 on the Blenheim-Auckland route instead of a 19-seat Beechcraft 1900D since February 10. This created an extra of 800 seats each week.

Mr Heiford said the change had been a positive move for Air New Zealand and the region, though they were struggling to keep up with demand.

"We are getting really positive feedback from the travelling public," he said. "We are really noticing the change and it [the aircraft] is really popular and really full.

"It's a good start [but] roll on the expansion."

Work will get under way in April, starting with the apron, the area in front of the terminal where planes park. It will be extended, as will the terminal. The passenger check-in area will be relocated and the baggage claim area will be under cover.

The expansion is expected to take six months to complete.

One issue the airport staff have noticed since the change to the bigger Q300s was space, Mr Heiford said.

"One issue we are finding is the parking. We need more car parks."

Mr Heiford was working on a proposal to expand the car park, he said.

He was unsure whether more Q300 aircraft would be used on other routes in and out of Marlborough, but said it was up to public demand and Air New Zealand.

An Air NZ spokesperson said they were seeing strong demand for the Auckland-Blenheim service and were pleased with the route's performance.

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- The Marlborough Express

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