Kaitaia residents have been urged to use their new air service to Auckland or risk losing it either partially or completely. The stark warning was issued today by Far North mayor John Carter at a ceremony at Kaitaia airport to mark the final Air New Zealand departure to Auckland.
Great Barrier Airlines is picking up where Air New Zealand left off, operating three daily flights each way between Kaitaia and Auckland on weekdays. The first flights leave Kaitaia tomorrow (Wednesday 29 March).
But Mayor Carter and Far North Holdings (FNHL) CEO Andy Nock warned today that people cannot take the service for granted.
“Airlines are commercial businesses like any other,” Mr Nock said. “We cannot expect Great Barrier Airlines to subsidise our air links with Auckland and so it’s up to us all to make the route a viable one.
FNHL, which operates Kaitaia airport, had worked hard to show Great Barrier Airlines why servicing Kaitaia should be a good business decision and to come up with a deal that works for them, Mr Nock said.
“It’s a two-way thing,” Mr Nock said. “A scheduled air service between Kaitaia and this country’s largest market doesn’t just benefit Great Barrier Airlines. It’s vital for economic growth and regional development. So now it’s up to us all. We need to use it. Or we’ll lose it.”
Far North Holdings will be running a local publicity campaign for the first year of the new service, centred on this message.
Great Barrier Airlines says it will operate a 12-seater Cessna Grand Caravan 208B aircraft on the route. Flights from Auckland to Kaitaia will depart at 6am, 12:30pm and 5:30pm on weekdays, with return flights from Kaitaia to Auckland departing at 7:30am, 2:00pm and 7:00pm.
The schedule means that business people will be able to undertake a full day’s business in Auckland before flying home in the evening. They will also have time to transfer at Auckland airport to and from Wellington services.
On weekends Great Barrier Airlines will operate two flights a day between Kaitaia and Auckland, departing Auckland for Kaitaia at 9:30am and 5:00pm and returning to Auckland from Kaitaia at 11:00am and 6:30pm.
The ceremony at Kaitaia airport today was attended by staff and executives from FNDC and Far North Holdings, local business leaders and other residents. A group of 10 were taken up for a sight-seeing flight around Kaitaia by Great Barrier Airlines.
About Far North Holdings Ltd
Far North Holdings Limited (FNHL) is responsible for managing and operating the commercial activities of the Far North District Council. These include Port Opua, Bay of Islands Marina, Kaitaia and Bay of Islands Airports, Paihia Maritime Buildings and Paihia Wharf, Williams Road Car Park and the Kaitaia Education Campus.
Since 2005 all of FNHL’s trading surplus has either been distributed to the Far North District Council or reinvested in property and infrastructure within the Far North District. The Far North District Council estimates that without this financial contribution general rates would have been approximately four percent a year higher, each year, over this period.
FNHL’s mandate includes the support and development of economic activity in the Far North.