Air Chathams will be flying in Kāpiti again exactly two months after their last flight between Kāpiti and Auckland on March 24.
Air Chathams general manager Duane Emeny said Air Chathams is confident to restart its Kāpiti-Auckland service again on Sunday, May 24, but said they will start by taking a cautious approach.
"Air Chathams and the Emeny family are overwhelmed by the messages of support received from the Kāpiti community, its business leaders and the Kāpiti Coast District Council.
"We will start with 15 flights per week between Kāpiti and Auckland, after operating 26 flights a week previously.
"We will focus on business-hour flights for the early flight out of Kāpiti at 6.55am, returning from Auckland at 6.10pm."
There will also be extra flights out on Friday afternoons, a flight to Auckland on Saturdays along with three flights between Auckland and Kāpiti on Sundays.
"After almost two months of lockdown, what we have seen through conversations with other airlines is that there is pent-up demand for domestic travel."
Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan believes Air Chathams plays an important role in our community and is asking the Kāpiti community to back the airline as it gets ready to resume services between Paraparaumu and Auckland.
"Air Chathams plays an important role in our community and in supporting our district to recover from the unprecedented impacts of Covid-19," Mr Gurunathan said.
"Reconnecting family, business and visitor connections is of critical importance to our district's social and economic recovery and we need to do what we can to help the airline get back up and running as quickly and sustainably as possible."
Throughout the lockdown the airline was able to operate essential freight services which turned out to be a lifesaver with the business able to get through without reducing staff with the help of the wage subsidy.
Air Chathams will be using a Saab 340 which normally seats up to 36 people but will be restricting it to 25 people.
"This allows for one or two passengers per row plus an educated assumption that there will be a number of passengers that will be travelling together, allowing us to slightly overbook on the social distancing as they can sit together," Mr Emeny said.
"We will be applying the guidelines from the Ministry of Transport around our level 2 PPE and hygiene policy by handing out hygiene packs free of charge at check-in which includes a facemask which will be mandatory to wear and hand wipes.
"We want to make everyone feels safe on our flights and will be doubling down on our cleaning efforts to make sure all the planes are kept clean and sterile, creating a safe environment for our passengers.
"Covid-19 has been a huge blow to our airline but we are excited and motivated to rebuild and continue to provide the safe, reliable service our reputation has been built on."
Mr Gurunathan said the council is committed to engaging with the Whanganui and Whakatane district councils to see what they can do help secure Air Chathams' future in the regions.
This includes lobbying central government for support.
"Prior to Covid-19 our district's share of regional and national tourism had been steadily increasing by around 10-15 per cent year-on-year over the past three years and we expect that to continue given the border restrictions.
"Air Chathams has built a strong and loyal customer base that, prior to Covid-19, was benefiting from the comfort and convenience of having a hassle-free regional connection right on their back doorstep.
"We fought hard to get Air Chathams to fly Kāpiti skies back in 2018 and we are equally committed to supporting them to get back up on their feet again."