Kiwi Regional back in the air after four day mechanical delay
Kiwi Regional Airlines staff are mending fences with passengers after a small mechanical fault on Sunday led to a four-day wait for a replacement part for their only plane.
The SAAB340A plane was grounded in Dunedin on Sunday after the engine fault grounded the scheduled 11am flight to Hamilton via Nelson.
The replacement part had to be sourced from Australia, however due to the supplier being unable to provide the part, the search for an alternative took them to the United States.
An anticipated two day delay extended to yesterday morning when service was finally resumed. A total of 250 passengers on 12 scheduled flights were affected.
Some customers, including several from Nelson, expressed their frustrations to the airline directly or through social media at loss of the service. One Nelson woman, who did not want to be named, said the airline had not been helpful finding alternative flights.
Kiwi Regional's reservations manager Dave MacPherson said it took "three days to get the part, one hour to inspect it and half an hour to fit it".
MacPherson said the airline had sought to offer assistance in the wake of the cancellations with offices staying open until 11pm on most evenings to offer refunds or coordinate alternative transport.
However, he appreciated that given the situation some passengers had fallen through the cracks or made their own arrangements.
"There are things we could have done a bit better and certainly we will take plenty out of this," said MacPherson.
"Obviously making people get off in the freezing rain (in Dunedin) isn't ideal and with a bitter southerly to battle against some passengers didn't hang around – we want to help those people.
He added that Kiwi Regional was continuing to track down the few remaining passengers affected, and stressed that anyone who had not already done so should get in touch so that they could resolve their issue directly or discuss possible reimbursement.
The idea of raising $2 million for additional aircraft through a crowdfunded shareholder initiative remained a long-term objective, although the legislative side of things was still to be finalised.
"It is still on the cards but I can't see it happening in the next month," said MacPherson.
The problems of having one plane also surfaced in February, when the airline cancelled flights after grounding the aircraft for unscheduled maintenance.