19 Mar 2018

Council thinks big on Kāpiti route

4:34 pm on 19 March 2018

Kāpiti Coast District Council plans to talk to airlines about expanding services beyond the Auckland to Kāpiti route that needs replacing when Air New Zealand scraps the service.

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Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The airline is dropping the daily Auckland service from Paraparaumu with the last flight in early April.

Council chief executive Wayne Maxwell said the priority was finding an airline to fill that gap.

"What's critical to us is a vitally sustainable and thriving airport, because it's really important both for our economy and resilience reasons. So we're actually looking a little bit bigger as well.

"I want to talk to the airlines and go 'so what about some other destinations?'."

Transmission Gully, a roading project making it faster to drive to the Kāpiti Coast, would increase demand at the airport, Mr Maxwell said, as people could drive in quickly from Porirua or Ōtaki.

Passengers surveyed as they came off flights over the past few weeks had said they loved the service.

Air Chathams has shown an interest in taking up the service.

General manager Duane Emery said Air New Zealand had been very proactive in providing interested airlines with data showing how viable it was to fly between Auckland and Kāpiti.

"We've also had some discussion with the airport managers and the owners of the airport, because it is private land, and further to that we have been in discussion with the district council and the local mayor, and the (Ōtaki) MP, Nathan Guy."

It was certainly the type of route Air Chathams would be interested in, and was similar to the Whanganui to Auckland passage the airline started flying last year, Mr Emery said.

The population base and market was similar, and although there were airports an hour to 90 minutes drive away, some people still preferred to fly.

Mr Emery said the plane that would fly between the Kāpiti Coast and Auckland was likely to be a Saab 340, which had up to 36 seats, and had been well-recieved in Whanganui by those flying to Auckland.

Meetings were been held on Tuesday, and Mr Emery hoped a decision would be made by the end of the week.