Air Chathams has confirmed it's considering stepping into the breach at Kapiti Airport, after Air New Zealand canned its flights there.
Air New Zealand's final flight between Kapiti and Auckland departed this morning at about 7am.
Now Air Chathams has confirmed it's assessing whether it could provide flights to the airport north of Wellington, saying it was "immediately interested" in providing the service.
Chief executive officer Craig Emeny said they'd met with all key stakeholders, including Kapiti Coast Airport Holdings Limited and Kapiti's mayor.
"Air Chathams has been working through a process, investigating route operational capability and viability, based on operating a Saab 340 aircraft as utilised on our Auckland-Whanganui scheduled service.
"We are currently working constructively with Kapiti Coast Airport to carry out technical due diligence to ensure all regulatory compliance obligations can be met.
"We know the community is eager for news, and we hope to be able to provide another update soon.
"Our family airline is encouraged by the messages of support we have received and we look forward to being in a position soon to provide the essential air services the Kapiti region requires to maintain a sustained period of strong regional growth."
A small group of spectators at Kapiti Coast Airport watched this morning as the last Kapiti passengers boarded an Air New Zealand plane, and the service left in grey overcast conditions.
One of the spectators was Eileen Shaw, who has been a regular watcher of the service since it started on Labour Weekend 2011.
"I feel sad for me, but I feel for the people who now have to go to Wellington or Palmerston North to catch a plane [to Auckland].
"This airport is so local and so lovely.
"I'm just going to miss it [watching the planes] so much.
"Someone said, 'it's just a load of metal', but I said, 'no it's a beautiful lady on the tarmac'."
Eileen had been invited by Air New Zealand by to a luncheon at Raumati Beach later in the morning.
And in a nice touch, she was given a "Fly Kapiti" T-shirt by Kapiti Coast District Council's Janice McDougall.
Kapiti acting mayor James Cootes said it was disappointing to see the last flight but new opportunities would be created.
"As one door closes another one opens.
"We're reasonably upbeat about the future of the airport and there has been a level of dissatisfaction with the service that has been flying out of here for various reasons.
"This allows an opportunity for a new provider to hopefully provide more flights and a better service."
Kapiti Coast Airport has been working hard to investigate options for alternative airlines to operate the Kapiti-Auckland route.
"The airport is in discussions with Air Chathams and the Kapiti Coast District Council and we are pleased with how they are progressing," a statement from the airport said.
"Because Air Chathams' aircraft are different to those that have previously operated commercially from Kapiti Coast Airport, technical and regulatory requirements are being carefully considered.
"Kapiti Coast Airport, expert external advisors and Air Chathams are currently exchanging information, and we hope to have this work completed as soon as possible, allowing us to move forward and determine any commercial arrangements.
"We understand the community is eager for information about the continuation of airline services from Kapiti to Auckland, and we hope to be able to provide another update within two weeks."