First flight for small air­line

Whangarei Report - - NEWS -

The owner of a small air­line that in­tro­duced flights to and from Whanga¯ rei is un­fazed by a lack of book­ings on its in­au­gu­ral flight, blam­ing it on a lack of ad­ver­tis­ing.

Fly My Sky chief ex­ec­u­tive Keith Mcken­zie and Whanga¯ rei MP Dr Shane Reti were the only pas­sen­gers on the first flight that landed on a beau­ti­ful day in Whanga¯ rei at 7.43am yes­ter­day.

Whanga¯ rei re­tiree Pe­ter Mills was the sole pas­sen­ger booked on the re­turn flight that de­parted at 8.25am.

The Auck­land-based air­line op­er­ates from the City of Sails to Great Bar­rier Is­land and Whanga¯ rei in its 10-seater Brit­ten Nor­man Is­lander twinengine planes. Fly My Sky is ad­ver­tis­ing fares from Auck­land to Whanga¯ rei of $99 one-way with a 23kg bag.

The air­line flies into Whanga¯ rei twice daily from Mon­day to Fri­day.

Mcken­zie said he ex­pected book­ings to ramp up as they headed to­wards the busy sum­mer and fes­tive sea­sons.

“We haven’t done much ad­ver­tis­ing as we pre­fer to keep it a lit­tle bit qui­eter rather than mak­ing a big song and dance about our en­try into Whanga¯ rei but I’d ex­pect book­ings to pick up as we go along,” he said.

“We may add an­other flight as Air New Zealand’s late flight is fairly booked but we’ll de­cide that fur­ther down the track. Look­ing for­ward, I think we have a rea­son­able fu­ture ahead of us. We ex­pected a slow be­gin­ning.”

Mcken­zie said the $99 fare would re­main un­til Christ­mas.

Mills, who was mak­ing a day trip to Auck­land for cof­fee and to see a sick friend, said any com­pe­ti­tion on the route was fan­tas­tic, although he felt Air New Zealand pro­vided a good ser­vice.

“More com­pe­ti­tion means flights are more fre­quent and re­li­able and the fares are low. I just love the fact that it’s the in­au­gu­ral flight and the fare is good.”

Dr Reti wel­comed the new air­line, which he said would be able to fill the gaps left by Air New Zealand.

“When peo­ple come to Whanga¯ rei, they can be pro­duc­tive. They can ar­rive in time for break­fast, start work and get back to Auck­land in time to avoid the traf­fic.”

Air New Zealand chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Luxon has wel­comed com­pe­ti­tion on the Auck­land to Whanga¯ rei route.

An­other air­line, Su­nair, op­er­ates between Whanga¯ rei, Great Bar­rier Is­land, Hamil­ton and Tau­ranga based on de­mand, and plans to open a flight train­ing base in Whanga¯ rei this year.

Pi­lots Anuj Kain, left and Ja­son Drake bring the air­craft to the ter­mi­nal.

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