The owner of a small airline that introduced flights to and from Whangārei is unfazed by a lack of booking on its inaugural flight, blaming it on a lack of advertising.
Fly My Sky chief executive Keith McKenzie and Whangārei MP Dr Shane Reti were the only passengers on the first flight that landed on a beautiful day in Whangārei at 7.43am yesterday.Whangārei retiree Peter Mills was the sole passenger booked on the return flight that departed at 8.25am.
The Auckland-based airline operates from the City of Sails to Great Barrier Island and Whangārei on its 10-seater Britten Norman Islander twin-engine planes. Fly My Sky is advertising fares from Auckland to Whangārei of $99 one-way with a 23kg bag.
The airline flies into Whangārei twice daily from Monday to Friday.
McKenzie said he expected bookings to "ramp up" as they headed towards the busy summer and festive season.
"We haven't done much advertising as we prefer to keep it a little bit quieter rather than making a big song and dance about our entry into Whangārei but I'd expect bookings to pick up as we go along,'' he said.
"We may add another flight as Air New Zealand's late flight is fairly booked but we'll decide that further down the track. Looking forward, I think we have a reasonable future ahead of us. We expected a slow beginning."
McKenzie said the $99 fare would remain until Christmas.
Mills, who was making a day trip to Auckland for coffee and to see a sick friend, said any competition on the route was fantastic, although he felt Air New Zealand provided a good service.
"More competition means flights are more frequent and reliable and the fares are low. I just love the fact that it's the inaugural flight and the fare is good."
Reti welcomed the new airline, which he said would be able to fill the gaps created by Air New Zealand.
"When people come to Whangārei, they can be productive. They can arrive in time for breakfast, start work and get back to Auckland in time to avoid the traffic."
Air New Zealand chief executive Chris Luxon has welcomed competition on the Auckland to Whangārei route.
Another airline, Sunair, operates between Whangārei, Great Barrier Island, Hamilton and Tauranga based on demand and plans to open a flight training in Whangārei this year.