Disrupted flights anger businesspeople
A Blenheim businessman is meeting clients in Nelson rather than in Blenheim because flights into Blenheim are unreliable.
Flights have been disrupted or cancelled since Air New Zealand grounded its fleet of Beech 1900D planes when engineers found cracks in the tail section. Seven of the 11 planes are still on the ground. The planes are operated by Air New Zealand subsidiary Eagle Air.
Blenheim IT company pcMedia managing director Lee Harper said the cancellation of some Eagle Air flights has not only affected his staff flying out of Blenheim, but also clients coming in for meetings.
"We're now meeting clients coming from New Plymouth in Nelson instead of Blenheim because it's just not reliable," he said."It's embarrassing."
Mr Harper had to cancel a business meeting in Wellington tomorrow after his flight was rescheduled to arrive two hours after the meeting started.
The disruption to flights was giving Marlborough a bad reputation, Mr Harper said.
He is encouraging his staff to use Sounds Air or Air2There flights, which he says are cheaper and more reliable.
An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said seven Beech aircraft were undergoing maintenance.
Eagle Air would operate at 93 per cent of its usual seat capacity for the next two weeks, she said.
This included direct flights between Blenheim and Auckland and Christchurch, although the scheduled flights would continue to be adjusted.
Passengers could book direct flights to Christchurch and Auckland or indirect flights through Wellington. There was no difference in the fares, the spokeswoman said.
Air New Zealand is using larger planes, including Q300s and ATRs, to replace several Beech flights each day.
Marlborough Chamber of Commerce general manager Brian Dawson said at least five businesspeople in Marlborough had told him they were concerned about the disruption to flights.
Some people have struggled to get to Wellington and had to find alternative transport, he said.
Mr Dawson plans to talk to Air New Zealand to better understand the problems. He wants a reassurance that Blenheim has been treated the same as other regional centres.
"I want to confirm that we are not seen as so small that we don't matter as much. We want to confirm that we matter," he said.
- The Marlborough Express