Entry of a small airline into the Whangārei market has been welcomed - even by Air New Zealand.
Auckland-based Fly My Sky currently operates between the City of Sails and Great Barrier Island and will extend its services to and from Whangārei from October 23.
The family-owned airline has been advertising fares of $99 one-way with a 23kg bag.
Northland tourism leader Jeroen Jongejans said competition would keep Air New Zealand on its toes.
"Air New Zealand is doing a good job but sometimes their services are inadequate and they'll have to pull up their socks to meet the challenge with the entry of this new airline.
"It's good to have a choice. With the road connection between Whangārei and Auckland getting more challenging and a solution is a while away, having a good air connection is really important," he said.
The public reacted positively to news on the Northern Advocate Facebook page.
Joanne Catton said any smaller airline probably wouldn't have fares as cheap as Air New Zealand.
"But $99 for bag and seat is very reasonable I think. We need competition to keep prices competitive in Whangārei but smaller companies can only provide so much," she said.
Ria Migaloo said: "I'd seriously consider it for more than a couple of days away because even though it's cheaper by car, the parking is often costly in the park and ride."
Dianne Meyer said the new service should be good, provided it was more reliable than Air New Zealand.
Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai welcomes the competition.
The city was growing fast, Air New Zealand flights were often full, and Fly My Sky's 7am flight from Auckland would be especially useful, she said.
"Some of the DHB specialists from Auckland need to get up here in plenty of time to fill the day with appointments and I'm sure there will be many people who will take advantage of being able to come up, do a full day's business and head away again in the afternoon," Mai said.
Air New Zealand chief executive Chris Luxon said the national carrier offered a good service to Whangārei and competition was welcome.
"It's a really great thing actually, because there's a really vibrant, secondary and smaller airline market in regional New Zealand."
Fly My Sky has four 10-seater Britten-Norman Islander aircraft it plans to use on the Whangārei route.
The planes will depart Auckland for Whangārei at 6.55am Monday to Friday with the return flight at 8.20am.
The company wanted to expand and Whangārei looked like the perfect place to start, chief executive and co-owner Keith McKenzie said.
"We believe that there is not the level of service for the public up there, there are not the number of flights that there are in other parts of New Zealand, and we think there's a niche in there for someone like ourselves to ... offer some alternative services."
There were gaps in Air New Zealand's Whangārei schedule and Fly My Sky intended to fill them, he said.
Another airline, Sunair, operates between Whangārei, Great Barrier Island, Hamilton and Tauranga based on public demand and planned to open a flight training in Whangārei later this year.
It has a contract with the Northland District Health Board to fly medical personnel between Whangārei and Kaitaia every day.