First flight for small airline
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.