Bar­rier Air’s com­mit­ment to fill­ing need

The Northland Age - - Local News -

The suc­cess of Bar­rier Air’s Kaitaia-Auck­land ser­vice is the re­sult of an ex­tra­or­di­nary de­gree of com­mit­ment by the com­pany and the ac­tive sup­port of the Far North District Coun­cil.

And no one is hap­pier to see the ser­vice well and truly es­tab­lished and grow­ing than Far North Mayor John Carter.

The Auck­land-based air­line had not had an easy row to hoe in the early stages, he said, but he and his coun­cil had never un­der-es­ti­mated the need for it to suc­ceed.

Suc­ces­sive coun­cils had al­ways con­sid­ered air­ports an es­sen­tial part of the district’s in­fra­struc­ture, Mr Carter said in 2015, while Bar­rier Air was bat­tling sig­nif­i­cant head winds.

“Back in the mid-1990s the gov­ern­ment de­cided to close all three air­ports in the Far North and dis­pose of the land. As the then lo­cal Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment I worked with the coun­cil to have own­er­ship of or re­spon­si­bil­ity for the three air­ports trans­ferred to the lo­cal coun­cil.

“We con­sid­ered that air ser­vices and fa­cil­i­ties were part of our over­all trans­porta­tion net­work, and far too im­por­tant to lose,” he said.

“Our view was that if a district lost in­fra­struc­ture it was a huge job to re-es­tab­lish it at some time in the fu­ture. I am sure that most would agree that it was the right de­ci­sion to make then. Given that over the years we have in­vested sig­nif­i­cantly in Kerik­eri and Kaitaia air­ports, and in main­tain­ing the grass run­way at Kaikohe, I think that pre­serv­ing what we have is still the right thing to do.

“Air­ports and the ser­vices they pro­vide aren’t just recre­ational, but have so­cial, health, com­mer­cial, tourism and in­dus­trial as­pects to them. They are an es­sen­tial part of our district, and are about much more than a sin­gle ser­vice.

When Air New Zealand de­cided not to con­tinue pro­vid­ing flights out of Kaitaia it was go­ing to leave a sig­nif­i­cant gap in terms of both our trans­port needs and in the de­ple­tion of a com­mu­nity fa­cil­ity,” he said.

“We were con­cerned that it would have all sorts of neg­a­tive im­pacts, such as mak­ing it harder to at­tract teach­ers, health work­ers, po­lice, trades peo­ple, busi­ness in­ter­est and eco­nomic in­vest­ment. I’m still of the view that los­ing the ser­vice would have been very costly in the longert­erm.”

The ser­vice pro­vided by Bar­rier Air had been con­ve­nient for many, not least given that it ob­vi­ated the need for an overnight stay in Auck­land or Welling­ton.

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