Queenstown is on flight path
New Zealand’s newest airline has announced direct routes from Queenstown to Nelson and Dunedin.
While it still needs to get certification, Kiwi Regional Airlines will aim to be in the sky by the end of the year, with direct flights between Auckland, Hamilton, Nelson, Blenheim and Palmerston North with a connection to Queenstown.
The company will be based in Hamilton, and will purchase two Saab 340 34-seater aircraft from Europe for the flights. Snacks and refreshments will be offered, and the service will include a flight attendant.
Hamilton city councillor and Kiwi Regional Airlines chief executive Ewan Wilson announced the planned carrier at the end of last year after Air New Zealand said it would pull out of some regional routes.
Air NZ said it was losing $1 million a month on routes run by the 19-seat Beech 1900D aircraft, and would scrap Kaitaia, Whakatane and Westport services from April. Whangarei to Wellington, Taupo to Wellington, Palmerston North to Nelson will also be scrapped, and Hamilton to Auckland will be gone from February 2016.
Wilson said load factor and yield date from Air NZ had been provided to the company which had helped determine the routes, which were not being offered by any other carrier as far as he was aware. They include a flight from Auckland, stopping in Hamilton, Nelson, Queenstown to Dunedin, which will fly daily both ways.
Flights from Palmerston North to Blenheim, Nelson, Tauranga and the North Shore will also be offered, along with one from the North Shore to Wellington.
The direct flights from Blenheim and Palmerston North would run six days a week.
Nelson would be served by a morning flight from Queenstown, going on to Hamilton and Auckland with a mid-afternoon return. The flight would be part of a route that left Dunedin in the early morning, arriving in Auckland around noon before returning on the same route.
Another aircraft would provide Nelson-Tasman residents with direct connections to Palmerston North, and an ongoing connection to Tauranga.
Wilson said the company had all the funds required to get its operating licence, hire staff, buy planes and set up headquarters in Hamilton thanks to shareholders. .