Who wants to go to Palmy? Plenty of Nelsonians, actually.
Air New Zealand began trialling a direct Nelson-Palmerston North service last July. The airline says it has been well supported and intends continuing it.
Families, holidaymakers and business travellers are among those taking advantage of it.
Passengers taking the 4.30pm flight from Nelson to Palmerston North yesterday who the Nelson Mail spoke with were keen to see the service continue.
Mel Currie, who lives in Palmerston North, was returning home after visiting her sister in Nelson. She said she had used the direct service three times, and found it much easier than flying out of Paraparaumu, which she used to do. "I definitely want it to stay."
One first-time user was Debbie Cameron, chief executive of the Royal Agricultural Show. She lives in North Canterbury and has been holidaying in Nelson, but needed to go to Feilding on business.
She said she initially thought she would have to travel via Wellington, and was surprised to find out about the direct service to Palmerston North. It meant she was able to fly there, stay overnight and then return to Nelson.
Also using the service were Leita Chrystall from Himatangi, near Palmerston North, and retired entomologist Ian Townsend, who had spent the past week enjoying walks around Nelson, Golden Bay and the West Coast. They also said they were pleased to have the direct link.
There are up to 11 direct flights a week, and the flight takes 45 minutes.
Palmerston North Airport chief executive Darin Cusack said the frequency and timing of the service had benefited both short-break holidaymakers and business travellers, and customer feedback had been extremely positive.
Based on the success of the Nelson service, Palmerston North Airport was looking to expand capacity on the route, and was talking with Air New Zealand about other possible regions within its network.
Mr Cusack said Palmerston North Airport was actively promoting Nelson and Manawatu as destinations.
This summer, the airport had been working with the Department of Conservation to promote the Great Walks network, which encompassed the two destinations, along with other promotional initiatives, he said.
Its catchment region included Manawatu, Whanganui, Horowhenua, Tararua, Ruapehu, Rangitikei and Wairarapa, with access to skiing, golf, walking, cycling, events, wine, food and freshwater fishing.
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