Sluggish start for Kiwi Air bookings


A new regional airline hoping to fly to Queenstown from next month says bookings are sluggish.

If it gets government approval, Kiwi Air will start flying a 34-seater plane into Queenstown from Dunedin from October 27.

Fares start at $79 one way - although that doesn’t include checked-in baggage.

Kiwi Air boss Ewan Wilson says he’s generally happy with bookings but Queenstown’s a “slower start”.

“Queenstown for us - for the Dunedin-Queenstown leg and vice-versa - is very much targeted at the corporates and day-traveller return. So the booking profiles are very late.”

Kiwi Air? Ewan Wilson?

If you’re having deja vu it’s because Kiwi Air was a cut-price airline that took on Air New Zealand in the mid-90s - and lost.

It went bust in 1996 with debts of about $8 million.

Wilson was its boss - who was later convicted of fraud.

That’s all water under the bridge, apparently.

The Hamilton city councillor told the Waikato Times earlier this year: “The only thing left from the Kiwi Air days is the fact that we’ve continued to use the name and we’re continuing to use every lesson that we accumulated.”

Wilson tells the Scene he’s confident the airline will be profitable in its first year - but it seems he thinks the Queenstown leg is touch and go.

“We’re particularly committed to Dunedin and we’ll see how the market responds to the Queenstown-Dunedin link.”

Queenstown business heavyweight Sir Eion Edgar, who drove to Dunedin and back last week, is a fan.

“A flight there and back would be so much easier.”

The Forsyth Barr chairman says he hopes the airline is successful so it can buy another plane.

The Civil Aviation Authority confirms Kiwi Air has applied for an airline operating certificate.

Kiwi Regional Airlines Ltd’s 56 per cent shareholders are Hamilton couple Guy and Nicole Domett. Wilson has a quarter stake.