A Dunedin to Queenstown air link looks set to be scaled back after just taking off.
Shortly after the inaugural flight landed in the resort, Kiwi Regional Airlines boss Ewan Wilson says what was to have been a daily service may be scaled back to Fridays and Mondays.
Three months of marketing garnered good results for routes to Nelson and Hamilton, but it appeared there was “an over-supply of capacity” for the Dunedin-to-Queenstown, he says.
Wilson, a former Dunedin man and now a Hamilton city councillor, was behind Kiwi Air, which collapsed in 1996 after intense competition.
His latest venture targets regional routes not served by other airlines.
The inaugural flight to Queenstown was delayed by low cloud in the resort.
But that didn’t bother passengers, who were in a festive mood.
The company’s 34-seater SAAB aircraft was late taking off from Dunedin and had to circle over Alexandra while scheduled Air New Zealand flights landed in Queenstown.
Its flight finally dotted down more than an hour late – the first new airline to fly into the resort since Jetstar International in 2010.
The first passenger off the plane, Jon-Paul Jordan, of Dunedin, describes the flight as brilliant.
“A bit of a long journey here but it was all worth it – a beautiful view on the way in, too.”
Mr Jordan, a private banking manager for ASB Bank, is working in Queenstown for the day.
Kiwi Regional Air – which got CAA approval last week – is the brainchild of Ewan Wilson, the Hamilton city councillor who was behind cut-price airline Kiwi Air which went bust in 1996.
Wilson was on the flight. In the Queenstown Airport terminal he says he’s proud.
“There were 19 paying passengers today. You often get on the inaugural flight and it’s all company staff and media.
“But today, actually, it was predominantly paying passengers and they were as excited and proud of being involved in something new and innovative.”
Otago Daily Times