Air Chathams is back operating its Kāpiti-to-Auckland service after an enforced pause of 118 days.
On Wednesday night an Air Chathams flight from Auckland arrived at Kāpiti Coast Airport with 25 passengers on board.
The airline hadn't been operating its passenger flights into and out of Auckland since the Covid-19 lockdown in August and continued restrictions in the City of Sails.
There were lots of smiles as passengers disembarked, including a beaming Hayley Killalea.
"It's nice to get out of Auckland finally."
She was quick to get an airline ticket when she heard flights had resumed.
"As soon as they [Air Chathams] announced ticket sales I was on their website."
Hayley said she usually worked from home so the lockdown wasn't too bad.
"It's nice to have less restrictions now, though."
Her father Shaun was delighted to see his daughter.
"It has been a long time.
"We will have a good three weeks."
In a nice touch, Air Chathams gave each passenger a goodie bag included a bag of Dark Horse coffee, lavender sleep spray from Coe & Co, and more.
During the enforced restrictions, Air Chathams could continue to operate services to and from the Chatham Islands via Wellington and Christchurch along with moving essential freight around the country.
But now, with Auckland's border restriction lifted, the essential airline passenger service, servicing Kāpiti, Whanganui and the Eastern Bay of Plenty, is back in the air.
"We are hopeful our key regional communities and supporters will rally in behind our family business service to assist us in the recovery of these key air travel links," Air Chathams chief operating officer Duane Emeny said.
The return of Air Chathams passenger services will not only provide a boost to the local economy, but reconnect families and friends in various regions.
"Friends, family, businesses and visitors have enjoyed the convenience and affordability of the two-way service for the last three years that would otherwise add cost and complication to their journeys," Kāpiti Coast District Council economic development manager Mark Ward said.
"Our research has shown how much consumers value ease of access to all that both Kāpiti Coast and Auckland have to offer, and we are delighted the service is back just in time for the summer rush."
The Air Chathams team is 100 per cent vaccinated and most are getting booster jabs in the coming weeks.
The airline has a strict Covid-19 travel policy, meaning its passengers either need to show proof of full vaccination or proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.