The owner of a small airline that has started Auckland to Whangārei flights says the first week has been tough going but there are signs bookings will pick up over summer.
Fly My Sky chief executive Keith McKenzie said ''a couple'' of flights had had no passengers but bookings were picking up.
''The loads have been fairly light but that's what we expected,'' he said.
The airline flies from Auckland to Great Barrier Island and Whangārei with a 10-seater Britten Norman Islander twin-engine plane. The aircraft carries a maximum of nine passengers on the Auckland-Whangārei route.
''We've had a couple of time where there are people on one way but none the other,'' said McKenzie, who owns the airline with his wife Robyn.
''It's not as busy as we would like but I think word of mouth will help.''
One-way fares start at $99 and that includes a 23kg bag.
The airline flies into Whangārei twice daily from Monday to Friday, departing from Auckland at 6.55am and 1.25pm and leaving Whangārei at 8.25am and 2.50pm.
McKenzie said an advertising campaign to start this week should help boost bookings and more summer travel should help.
Poor road links to the North should also help persuade drivers to fly rather than drive.
The aircraft also flies over Auckland city on its way to Auckland Airport which was much like a sightseeing flight.
Fly My Sky operates four Britten Norman Islanders from Auckland Airport.
Although the airline operates in competition with Air New Zealand, McKenzie said there has been good support from the national carrier in Whangārei.
Fly My Sky has only about a tenth of Air NZ's daily capacity between Whangārei and Auckland.
He said he has been flying for 53 years and the airline uses only twin engine planes because it flies over water and at night.