More than 4300 people attended the Kāpiti Coast Airport Open Day on Sunday, with people keen to have a look onboard an Air Chathams Saab 340 which will be spearheading the Kāpiti to Auckland route from August 20.

Other highlights included scenic flights on Air Chathams' Douglas DC-3, Heliworx flights, pop-up displays, food trucks, look through of a Westpac Rescue Helicopter and a Wellington Free Ambulance vehicle through to fixed-wing aircraft displays.

Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan said seeing the community come out in force, both as visitors and hosts of the event, "continued to strengthen the message that our airport and its services are hugely important to many people in our region".

Mr Gurunathan, who thanked everyone involved, said it was a "fantastic opportunity" to welcome Air Chathams.

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Kapiti mayor K Gurunathan, left, and Air Chathams owner Duane Emeny in a Saab 340. Photo / David Haxton
Kapiti mayor K Gurunathan, left, and Air Chathams owner Duane Emeny in a Saab 340. Photo / David Haxton

"People place a lot of value on the calmer, shorter and congestion-free travel experience that flying from Kāpiti offers and this will be a key point of difference for Air Chathams."

There has been strong support for Air Chathams after Air New Zealand's sudden exit from the Kāpiti to Auckland route earlier this year.

"The first glimpse I got of the community support was an airport rally a few months ago and that was well before we had made any decisions," Air Chathams general manager Duane Emeny said.

"I saw the passion in the community for their local airport and the fact they didn't want to be forced to go to Wellington or Palmerston North.

"Having an airport here is very important to the community.

"The support has been ongoing, there's been a number of events, and also a lot of very encouraging comments across social media.

"And we're getting great support from the council, the airport which is privately owned, and Air New Zealand."

Mr Emeny said Air Chathams was a smaller airline "so the Kāpiti to Auckland service means so much more to us".

"This needs to succeed because we're putting so much investment into it.

"We're going to do our darndest to make sure that the Kāpiti service is a great one and it's reliable, it's safe and it's affordable.

"We know we're never going to be able to compete with some of the ridiculously low pricing that you see out of Wellington, however what we will do is provide that reliability, and we believe it will be an affordable price across a range of different options.

"We're just looking forward to it.

"We will be operating 36 flights a week [schedule www.airchathams.co.nz] and we believe it caters to the business traffic in the early mornings and late evenings as well as leisure traffic in between."

He said Air Chathams wasn't a short-term company pointing out its Whakatane and Whanganui services had celebrated three year and two year anniversaries respectively.

"If we can make it [Kāpiti to Auckland] work and get the support from the community we will be here as long as you want us."