3 Apr 2018

Air NZ pulls out, up, and away from Kāpiti

10:55 am on 3 April 2018

The final Air New Zealand flight from the Kāpiti Coast to Auckland has left Paraparaumu.

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A cafe owner at the airport north of Wellington says he considered shutting his business down when he heard Air New Zealand was pulling its service. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

In early March, the national carrier announced they were cutting the daily service, and faced stiff opposition from locals.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones attacked the airline last month saying it was short-changing services to the regions.

Flight 8860 was farewelled by acting mayor James Cootes, district councillors and council executives, and other community representatives.

Kāpiti resident Sandi Beatie regularly uses the service and was onboard this morning's flight.

"I was very, I suppose, disappointed, at the way Air New Zealand handled it.

"We ... had an open day at the airport the week before Air New Zealand announced that it was pulling out and I thought that was pretty awful for a big company like that to treat Kāpiti like that," she said.

The queue for the final Air New Zealand flight from Kāpiti to Auckland.

The queue for the final Air New Zealand flight from Kāpiti to Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Katie Scotcher

Chris Orchard owns iLand Cafe inside the airport and considered shutting down the business when he heard the service was being cut.

"The short term that we've had, three weeks notice, to rethink our business plan and come up with something new has been a bit of a shock, for sure", he said.

"It's a bit like jumping off the edge of a cliff and not knowing what's going to happen.

"It's very sad to see them go, a lot of people relied on the service," he said.

Kāpiti Coast District Council has been working with the airport to find a new carrier to take over the service.

Council chief executive Wayne Maxwell said watching the flight depart was a strange feeling, but he was confident a replacement service would be found.

"We really need this airport to be functioning well and for that to work, we need lots of flights in and out.

"So we're looking, not just at replacing the Auckland route, but we need to think bigger too."

Air Chathams is yet to announce if it will take over the service, but a decision is expected in the next fortnight.

Kāpiti Coast Airport said because Air Chathams' aircraft were different to those that previously operated from the airport, technical and regulatory requirements have to be carefully considered before a decision was made.

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