Air Chathams, a regional airline in New Zealand, has resumed a route suspended by national carrier Air New Zealand earlier this year. The route between Auckland and the Kapiti Coast was served by the national airline, until March of this year, putting fears the Kapiti Coast Airport would close.
Air Chathams will operate the route 36 times per week, using their fleet of Saab 340 aircraft. This will provide 1,152 seats per week for passengers on the route.
The route hasn’t been served for the winter season in New Zealand, with Air Chathams’ flights beginning on August 20. In June, the local council spent NZ$150,000 to market the new service by Air Chathams. In addition to the marketing by the council, the privately owned airport is not charging the airline for its first year of operation. After the first year, the airport will offer a 33 percent discount on a lease to the airline.
The Kapiti Coast is on the south-western shores of New Zealand’s north island, located about 45 minutes north of Wellington. In addition to being known for its cheese industry, most of the area’s residents commute to work in Wellington. The area has also been used in blockbuster films, with director Peter Jackson from the area. As such, the local landscape has been featured in Lord of the Rings and King Kong.
The Kapiti Coast Airport was once the busiest airports in the country in 1949 and was once the main airport for Wellington. However, the Wellington International Airport, opened in 1959, leading to a significant drop in service. Currently, the airport is served by two small local carriers, serving two cities on the south island. Air New Zealand previously operated between Auckland and the Kapiti Coast for seven years, with regional partner Air Nelson, until Air Chathams took over.
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