Air Chathams is deep in negotiations about taking over the Kapiti Coast to Auckland air service.

The family owned business is keen to take over the route after Air New Zealand's shock axing of the service which takes place early next month.

A rally at Kapiti Coast Airport on Sunday to show support for the service, which about 200 people attended, Air Chathams general manager Duane Emery said the airline was "still working through some important factors to ensure that when we make that decision, we can live up to our regional reputation and offer the service that this region deserves.

"As part of that process we are working very closely with Air New Zealand and to secure agreements in principle to ensure that our airline is in a strong position to continue to succeed here.


"Air NZ recognise the notice period given here was unacceptable and will offer more to support the airline that continues the Kapiti to Auckland service.

"The reality is the big brand items, such as Koru access and Interline, will not be coming our way, but that aside we are looking forward to continuing our due diligence and being in a position to hopefully make an announcement about our intentions as soon as possible.

"While there will be a service gap post April 3 it is our intention to reduce this to as small as we can while ensuring we conduct our transition in a safe and appropriate way."

He noted the company was looking at ways to mitigate the risk of some large hills towards the south of the airport.

"Obviously a straight out departure isn't an option for us so we're looking at some avoid some of those obstacles.

"It is looking quite promising...there are some areas already on the runway that aren't being utilised that we could look at utilising and they're a reasonably quick and low cost option that would certainly help with our performance."

Mr Emery said the Saab 340, which has a 34 seat configuration and economic operating cost, was "an amazing aeroplane" and was "the right fit for this market".

Air Chathams, which took pride in its service and reliability, had been "overwhelmed with the confidence and support that has been extended to our airline in various forms since the Air New Zealand announcement".


"And the positivity your community has shown in welcoming our carrier."

The airline operated 80 scheduled flights a week including its service to the Chathams Island and has carried close to 100,000 passengers in the past 12 months.