A Nelson-based commuter airline is re-introducing a Cook Strait service to its schedule.
Originair has announced today it is adding the Nelson-Wellington route to its schedule in response to passenger demand.
The airline, established in 2015, once flew the route but pulled out with the arrival of Jetstar, which no longer flies into Nelson.
Originair founder and chief executive Robert Inglis said the new service will initially be limited to 10 flights per week, concentrating on peak demand times.
Inglis is a veteran of the commuter airline industry and is the co-founder of Air Nelson, which became an Air New Zealand link subsidiary.
He said customers had been asking the airline to consider a Nelson-Wellington route and Originair was pleased to be able to respond to that interest.
"We're not offering an extensive schedule at the outset but we hope that it will provide extra capacity at times that are most useful to travellers on that route."
Nelson residents spoken to by RNZ welcomed the news, and said it would be an advantage to have competition for more affordable air travel from the region.
Nelson-based tourism firm Latitude South Travel said any competition was healthy for a region that was heavily reliant on air services.
Luxury travel curator Claire Pendlebury said while they had not use OriginAir, they welcomed the announcement.
"Often times we're held a little bit hostage here in Nelson trying to get in and get out, and trying to move around the country. Anybody who has tried to go to Dunedin or Queenstown or other locations, the routes you have to take to get there are sometimes ridiculous and very expensive."
However, she said they often booked fares up to 10 months ahead, and could not risk an airline withdrawing a service at short notice.
"For us to be comfortable and confident in using OriginAir we'd want to see a definite established service with some longevity in it, just to avoid any possibility of them changing their minds and pulling out again."
Originair chief executive Robert Inglis said it will offer the service using its current two aircraft, but the airline was looking to add a 30-seat aeroplane to its fleet.
"We've only had the two Jetstreams available to us and we're looking at options, both in terms of the current type and a larger guage."
He said that at the moment the airline's focus was on the British Aerospace Jetstream type.
"We haven't made that decision yet but it's part of an investigation we're doing and we'll come to a view on it shortly."
The announcement followed consistent and encouraging demand for seats on the airline's newly-resumed Nelson-Palmerston North service.
"We are very happy with the way that the reintroduction of our Palmerston North service has been going. Demand has been solid and that gives us additional confidence to grow our service offering," Inglis said.
Originair currently has services from Nelson to Palmerston North, New Plymouth and Napier.
Flights on the Nelson-Wellington route will begin on the 14 February, with introductory fares starting at $69.