Barrier Air’s commitment to filling need
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.