Air Chathams' Kāpiti to Auckland air service is fully operational.

The inaugural flight landed at Kapiti Coast Airport on Sunday from Auckland with invited guests onboard before a pōwhiri, speeches and cake cutting.

Otaki MP Nathan Guy, left, Kapiti mayor K Gurunathan, Air Chathams general manager Duane Emeny, Air Chathams founder Craig Emeny, Mana MP Kris Faafoi. Photo / David Haxton
Otaki MP Nathan Guy, left, Kapiti mayor K Gurunathan, Air Chathams general manager Duane Emeny, Air Chathams founder Craig Emeny, Mana MP Kris Faafoi. Photo / David Haxton

On Monday, in wet conditions, the first commercial flight took off shortly before 7am, bound for Auckland.

Air Chathams has taken over the route which Air New Zealand had for about 10 years before the national carrier suddenly ditched it earlier this year.

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Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan said Air New Zealand's departure had been a shock but what had happened since had been "fantastic" with people getting behind Air Chathams.

He said people had a strong connection with the airport and while Todd Property Group owned the property title, the cultural title "is owned by my community".

He noted land was taken by the government under the Public Works Act, during World War II, to create an airport in Paraparaumu.

"We are reminded that this should continue to be an airport, and for that to happen and be sustainable, we need the continuation of an airline service."

Mana MP Kris Faafoi said a lot of work had been done to get Air Chathams to Kāpiti and the new challenge to the community was to support "this new member to our family to make sure it's a long and enduring relationship".

Kapiti Coast Airport chief executive Robert Binney said, "Our whole world is back on track, thank you.

"We're excited to see Air Chathams come to the Kāpiti Coast and look forward to offering you the support as you build up the service.

"We encourage the community to get behind Air Chathams and make the service a success."

Air Chathams general manager Duane Emeny said, "We're very much looking forward to building this flight service and getting it back to where it was and where this community needs it to be."

Ōtaki MP Nathan Guy thanked Air Chathams founder Craig Emeny and son Duane Emeny "for in effect coming to the party and seeing this as an opportunity for your airline to grow".

"I'm very proud of the fact that when you flew into Whanganui there were about 24,000 passenger movements a year with Air New Zealand and you've taken that to 30,000 a year and there's an opportunity for you to do something similar here.

"And we all, with fingers and toes crossed, believe there's an opportunity to reconnect with Christchurch as well."

He acknowledged airport owner Todd Property Group for "ensuring we can maintain the momentum".

"This is a very viable and very strategic asset for our community."