17 May 2012

Sunair's New Paraparaumu-Napier-Gisborne Service

Flights from Kapiti Coast to Napier and Gisborne will start next month, with Sunair Aviation operating two return flights a day to the East Coast. The new service starts on the back of the successful Paraparaumu to Auckland Air Nelson flights, which have been running for more than six months. Sunair co-owner Beverley Power said the flights will start on June 4, and will run twice a day on weekdays. They will fly direct to Napier, and then to Gisborne. "Well we already had the freight route going through Paraparaumu, and have decided to add the passenger element to it," she said. "We're really looking forward to it all getting under way." Sunair has operated in New Zealand for 25 years, and mainly transports corporate clients to smaller destinations such as Great Barrier Island, Whitianga, Tauranga and Rotorua. The airline has nine twin-engine aircraft, and three single-engine planes, and flights from Kapiti will be six-seater services. The current Air Nelson flights from Paraparaumu to Auckland have been receiving great support from locals, according to Air New Zealand, but Aucklanders have been less supportive. "During the first six months of operation we have seen steady support for Air New Zealand's new Paraparaumu to Auckland service, particularly from the Kapiti region," Air New Zealand spokeswoman Marie Hosking said. "We are working closely with the Kapiti community and business leaders to encourage them to work together on ways to attract more visitors and business people from Auckland to the region." There were no current plans to expand the service out of Kapiti. "The focus at this stage is on continuing to build the existing service". Kapiti Coast Airport chief executive Steve Bootten said he is pleased with the effort of locals in supporting the service. "Right from day one they've been well patronised. We have had a six month sort of progress meeting with [Air Nelson]. They are very pleased, right through from the ground handling, to the car parking, to the terminal facilities, ie the cafe." He said there had been many people asking about more destinations, and Air New Zealand had been asked too. "I think that there will be a service added. Of course that is up to Air Nelson, it's not for us to say, but my guess is there will be a service to Christchurch, and possibly towards the end of this year." Mr Bootten said the new flights by Sunair showed the airport is growing and attracting new markets. "It's a perfect example of the Air Nelson flights being the impetus for other people to suddenly look at the Kapiti Coast in general, and just realise the huge potential."

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