Eagle Air sets out its course
Rumours surrounding Eagle Air's future services have been "put to bed" by general manager Carrie Hurihanganui.
Mrs Hurihanganui met councillors, customers and industry leaders in Timaru this week to thank them for their perseverance and to answer questions surrounding the airline's turbulent year.
Eagle Air flights to and from Timaru were disrupted in August after hairline cracks were found in the tail area of one of the planes during a routine maintenance check.
The airline's fleet of Beech 19ooD aircraft were grounded as a result, disrupting travel throughout the country for five to six weeks.
Weather has also disrupted flights to and from Timaru in more recent months, she said.
However, she is unsure exactly how many cancellations there had been to the service since the discovery of hairline cracks.
She said clearing up the rumours that had circulated about the future of services was one of the reasons for her visit to Timaru this week.
"One was that people thought that some of the disruption meant we were looking at moving ourselves from Timaru, but [we are] absolutely not."
Another rumour was that Eagle Air was favouring other routes against Timaru.
However, the company does not "trade off" routes, she said.
"We look for a solution that minimises disruption to all of our customers. All of our ports were affected [by the hairline crack discovery] in one way or another.
"We don't trade off Timaru - it's a valuable market."
Mrs Hurihanganui said although the visit was brought on by the company's troubled few months, the response from the people she met with had been positive.
"Customers have said [the resumed service] has been great and that's where it needs to be.
"I apologise for the disruption there's been, but in regards to safety, that's always non-negotiable for us."
She said many customers she had met with applauded Eagle Air's approach to safety, despite not being happy that they had missed important meetings.
Mrs Hurihanganui will meet with Aoraki Development Business and Tourism chief executive Wendy Smith and mayor Janie Annear every three months to keep the lines of communication open.
Mrs Annear said she appreciated Mrs Hurihanganui's visit, which gave councillors a chance to express how valuable the Eagle Air service is to the community.
Mrs Smith also found the meeting valuable.
"We think it's really positive, and we've got an ongoing commitment with Carrie to keep meeting and discussing the issues."
- © Fairfax NZ News