Paraparaumu today becomes the 27th destination on Air New Zealand's domestic network with the launch of direct services between the Kapiti Coast and Auckland.
The new service is being operated by Air New Zealand regional subsidiary Air Nelson, with 18 return flights per week.
The first commercial flight left Paraparaumu at 6.55am today, arriving into Auckland at 8.05am.
The new Kapiti Coast Airport was to be officially opened this afternoon, with more than 200 invited guests expected to be at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Paraparaumu.
Air Nelson General Manager Grant Kerr says it's an exciting time for those living on the Kapiti Coast, with the new direct service set to save customers time and money.
"Those living on the Kapiti Coast will no longer have to make the one-hour drive into Wellington Airport - instead they'll be able to fly direct to Auckland in one hour ten minutes," he says.
Mr Kerr says there is a large catchment area for the new service, with around 110,000 people living in the area that stretches from Levin in the North to Tawa, near Wellington.
He says there has been a tremendous amount of work on technical enhancements to Kapiti Coast Airport to allow for the introduction of commercial services. This has involved significant input from the Civil Aviation Authority and Airways Corporation.
Among the enhancements are a new runway and re-designed terminal, which has a bach theme to emphasis the region's many beaches and relaxed atmosphere.
Kapiti Coast Airport owner Sir Noel Robinson, who has a long family association with the Coast, says the new airport is a significant investment for future generations.
"I genuinely believe this airport will have a huge impact on the Kapiti Coast for many generations to come," he says.
"The Kapiti community has got so many things going for it ... a new airport, great rail services and future national roading improvements as well as 46kms of beautiful beaches, wonderful park lands and a fantastic climate. It's a great place to bring up families ... and now with the airport up and running I know it's going to be one of the most sought-after destinations to visit and live in New Zealand."
Mr Kerr anticipates strong support for the new service and says bookings are where he expects them to be.
"As Kapiti locals increasingly support the service, we believe others living on the northern side of Wellington will be keen to avoid the gridlock that traditionally occurs between Wellington city and Wellington Airport to the south."