19 Apr 2016

Grounded Originair set to take off again soon

12:38 pm on 19 April 2016

Nelson commuter airline Originair, grounded amid safety concerns surrounding its operator, expects to be flying again soon.

Originair plane

Nelson-based commuter airline Originair expects to be back in the sky again soon. Photo: Supplied

Originair chief executive Robert Inglis said the planes had been grounded because of concerns surrounding the airline's operator, Air Freight NZ , but the matter was close to being resolved.

He told RNZ News today that it had been an unfortunate situation.

"Our air operator had an issue with their certification which meant they were not able to operate for a period of time, prompting a change to another operator.

"We've made a lot of progress and it's an unfortunate situation but we're close to an outcome," Mr Inglis said.

Originair founder Robert Inglis.

Originair founder Robert Inglis. Photo: Supplied

It was reported in February that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had restricted the operating certificate of charter service Air Freight NZ while it was investigating safety concerns that were brought to its attention.

Originair collaborated with two companies from the Freightways Ltd group - Air Freight NZ Ltd and Fieldair Engineering Ltd - to carry out flight operations and fleet maintenance.

CAA spokesperson Mike Richards said the authority had now investigated and had stated what was required, and it was up to the businesses to make the necessary arrangements.

He said the conditions on the Air Freight operating certificate regarding Originair remained, and if Air Freight wished to resume operations for Originair they would need to implement a number of changes, which would be subject to CAA review and acceptance.

The contents of the investigation would not be made public, as the release of specific investigation information could jeopardise future investigations, Mr Richards said.

However, CAA was "more than satisfied" it had provided information that was in the public interest, such as the safety concerns having been raised on behalf of Originair, that the CAA took action to eliminate risk for the public, and the investigation validated some of those safety concerns, he said.

Mr Inglis has a long history in operating regional airlines. He started Air Nelson in 1979 with Nicki Smith. Air New Zealand purchased 50 percent of the airline in 1988, then the total shareholding in 1996 and still operates it today.

Mr Inglis and Ms Smith then started Origin Pacific Airways in 1996 as a feeder airline for Qantas. It went into liquidation in 2006 after Qantas' Jet Connect cancelled a contract that resulted in Origin losing 60 percent of its business.

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