People living in provincial New Zealand have been urged to use new air services to Auckland or risk losing them completely.

The stark warning comes after Air New Zealand stopped operating to and from Whakatane, Kaitaia and Westport from today.

Far North mayor John Carter today urged people living in rural areas to use air services to ensure their continued operation.

Speaking at a ceremony at Kaitaia airport to mark the final Air New Zealand departure from there to Auckland, Mr Carter joined Far North Holdings (FNHL) CEO Andy Nock, in warning people not to take the services for granted.


Read more:
Air NZ stops some regional flights today
Small airlines fly in as Air NZ pulls out

"Airlines are commercial businesses like any other," Mr Nock said.

"We cannot expect Great Barrier Airlines to subsidise our air links with Auckland and so it's up to us all to make the route a viable one."

Great Barrier Airlines will take over the Kaitaia to Auckland route, operating three daily flights each way from tomorrow.

FNHL, which operates Kaitaia Airport, had worked hard to show Great Barrier Airlines why servicing Kaitaia should be a good business decision, Mr Nock said.

"It's a two-way thing. A scheduled air service between Kaitaia and this country's largest market doesn't just benefit Great Barrier Airlines. It's vital for economic growth and regional development.

"So now it's up to us all. We need to use it. Or we'll lose it."

Great Barrier Airlines will operate a 12-seater Cessna Grand Caravan 208B aircraft on the route, with three daily flights on weekdays, and two on the weekends.


Air New Zealand's regional carrier Eagle Air is not only pulling out of Kaitaia, Whakatane and Westport, it will scale back on serving other towns over the next year and will cease as an airline after nearly 50 years of flying.

However, smaller second-tier airlines are moving to fill the gap. Great Barrier Airlines is flying from Auckland to Kaitaia, Air Chathams is running a Whakatane to Auckland service and Sounds Air will fly between Westport and Wellington.