Air Chathams chief executive Craig Emeny says understanding the Whakatane market has enabled the company to provide a quality service.

It's been six weeks since Air Chathams took over after Air New Zealand stopped flights between Whakatane and Auckland and things are going well enough to add another daily flight to the schedule.

However, the company, along with the three mayors of the Eastern Bay, are continuing discussions with Air New Zealand to ensure the success continues.

Whakatane mayor Tony Bonne said a recent report into the economic benefits of flights into Whakatane showed an addition of $17 million to the local economy. "Reports were completed for the three regions Air New Zealand recently stopped servicing [Westport and Kaitaia as well as Whakatane] and will be shown to the Prime Minister to highlight the economic importance of each having a visible presence with our national carrier," Mr Bonne said.


Two proposals had been put to Air New Zealand from the Eastern Bay. "Right now we have lost all visibility through Air New Zealand and its website," Mr Bonne said.

"Were asking for Whakatane to be included online by highlighting flights to the region through Air Chathams and hoping people will be able to book flights with Air Chathams through the Air New Zealand website.

"Some of the bigger companies only use Air New Zealand and have been booking staff flights to Tauranga and Rotorua then hiring cars to get people to Whakatane.

"If they don't agree to making bookings available then we would at least like the inclusion." He said Air New Zealand had not said "no" but were putting up obstacles toward making it happen.

Mr Bonne, who flew Air Chathams on Wednesday, said a company chief executive sitting in the seat behind him gave the service a 10 out of 10.

"Everything I have heard to date has been positive and I urge local people and businesses to not only fly Air Chathams, but also to ensure they tell everybody about the service."

Related articles:

18 Jun, 2015 1:59pm
3 minutes to read
18 Jun, 2015 4:35pm
3 minutes to read
19 Jun, 2015 9:00am
2 minutes to read

Mr Emeny said it was always great to receive such feedback.

"The past six weeks have allowed us to see if what we had planned was right and make any adjustments we believe needed making."

Air Chathams have an 18-seater and a 50-seater available for the flights.

"So far the smaller plane has been used the majority of the time although there has been the odd day when demand has meant we've used the bigger one. We expect demand to increase during summer."

Air Chathams is looking to change arrival and departure times, making the morning flight to Auckland slightly earlier and the return trip to Whakatane slightly later.

"In addition, we will be adding an 11am flight to Auckland to accommodate people who are not so business orientated. This will be more about meeting international flights or connecting with other flights."

Mr Emeny was quick with praise for staff working at the airport. Air Chathams staff were enjoying Whakatane and becoming familiar faces at cafes and restaurants in town. Next up will be a passenger survey to see if the public agrees Air Chathams is doing it right.