Air Chathams has rejected claims that passenger numbers at Kapiti Coast Airport are falling.
Dani Simpson, from the Templeton Group, which controls the airport as part of the wider NZPropCo Ltd, said all options for the future of the airport, especially because of economic and safety challenges, were being explored.
She said the impacts of Covid-19 had a major impact on aviation including at the Paraparaumu based airport where "passenger numbers continue to decline".
But Air Chathams chief operating officer Duane Emeny said the Kāpiti to Auckland route was the weakest of the airline's three North Island routes pre Covid-19 but not now.
"With closed borders and continual traffic issues getting south to Wellington, the route has bounced back the fastest and now has the highest load factors and yields across our network."
Simpson also said safety was "now a significant concern for the airport" and that Airways was withdrawing Aerodrome Flight Information Services (AFIS) from the airport.
However Airways was still providing an AFIS at the airport.
"In May Airways announced its intention to withdraw or change the AFIS we provide at the airport due to the declining number of commercial flights," an Airways spokesperson said.
"The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ultimately decides what level of air traffic service is needed at an airport, and for the AFIS to change the airport will need to work through a process which includes undertaking an aeronautical study.
"As long as the airport is operational, Airways' intention is to continue to provide the AFIS until the CAA has reached its decision."
Emeny said, "If Airways assesses there is a safety requirement for AFIS, Air Chathams expects it to continue. If the experts say there is not, Air Chathams will accept that decision and Templeton should do so too."
Emeny said Air Chathams was disappointed Templeton Group hadn't engaged a lot earlier with its largest commercial operator about forward strategy and viability of the airport.
"We have invested heavily in the establishment and operation of our Auckland service.
"Our plans for our service are for growth, and we believe that the airport has a secure future."
Air Chathams also noted that:
• Strong population growth is forecast for the Kāpiti Coast and the airport is an essential link to Auckland and the South Island.
• The airport is a key Civil Defence asset in the event of natural disaster in Wellington.
• The airport offers an alternative for urgent travel when Wellington Airport is closed.
• The airport will offer an efficient alternative to Wellington to many more people when Transmission Gully is completed.
• Other operators can offer other scheduled services and Sounds Air currently does so.