A crowd waited at Kapiti Coast Airport this afternoon to welcome the inaugural Air Chathams flight from Auckland.

It was the airline's maiden flight to the region, before commercial flights begin on Monday morning.

Kapiti Coast Mayor K. Gurunathan, district council CEO Wayne Maxwell and Minister Kris Faafoi were among the guests travelling on the flight.

Passengers on the flight from Auckland to the Kapiti Coast.
Passengers on the flight from Auckland to the Kapiti Coast.

Mayor Gurunthan said it was a "special" day.


"The community has a long-term relationship with the airport. Some of the oldies will remember in 1954 the Queen landed here – that means a lot … this relationship with the airport is very solid."

Air Chathams owner Craig Emeny and general manager Duane Emeny piloted the plane to Paraparaumu.

They were greeted with a pōwhiri by tangata whenua as they arrived. Local iwis blessed the airline.

Air Chathams announced in July it was taking over the service and would operate 36 flights a week.

It came after Air New Zealand's decision to drop the service, which caused a national outcry.

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones accused Air New Zealand of abandoning the regions, while businesses also threatened to leave the town if a replacement service wasn't found.

Air Chathams had the support from the Kapiti Coast District Council, Air New Zealand and the airport. Councillors voted unanimously to fund the airline by providing $150,000 over the next three years for marketing.

Duane Emeny said it had been a long time coming but they were looking to the future.


"After months of backwards and forwards and working things through, here we are and it's successful."

Otaki MP Nathan Guy also was there to welcome Air Chathams. He held a rally at the airport earlier this year after Air New Zealand announced it was canning its service.

"I'm pleased the community has rallied around Air Chathams … there's still a bit of resentment to Air New Zealand and the way they treated the community here but that's behind us now.

"Maybe in the future we can get connections through to Christchurch as that would be fantastic."