The Taupo District Council has signed a deal with Sounds Air to fly the Taupo-to-Wellington route Air New Zealand will drop from the end of this month.

Under the six-year agreement the Marlborough-based air operator will provide at least three return flights on each week day and two return flights on Saturdays and Sundays, starting as soon as possible.

In return, the council will guarantee the first three seats per flight. A regular review period has been built into the agreement to ensure the arrangements are working for both parties.

The 45-minute flights will be on a nine-seater Pilatus PC12 - a single-engine, turboprop plane widely used in Australia and the United States and manufactured in Switzerland.


There will be a fixed price of $219 per flight regardless of when booked.

Concessions for 10 flights at $209 per seat will also be available.

Mayor David Trewavas said since Air New Zealand announced in November it would cut services between Taupo and Wellington he had been approached by businesses, retailers and residents concerned about what the loss of the flights might mean for the district in the short and long term.

A request for formal feedback from the community in March had shown there was overwhelming support for the district to retain its flight connectivity with the capital, he said.

"There was also support for us as the leaders of the community to do what we could to secure a service and we believe this agreement places us at minimal risk for ratepayers funds to be called upon."

Air New Zealand figures had shown there were on average 13 passengers per flight.

It was hoped the frequency of the flights would enable Sounds Air to provide a similar number of seats per week.

Mr Trewavas said Sounds Air had a solid reputation in the aviation industry having supplied passenger services for 25 years and they should be congratulated for stepping up to service the provinces.


Sounds Air has recently signed a similar agreement with the Buller District Council to provide services between Westport and Wellington and also served Picton, Blenheim, Nelson, Wanganui and Paraparaumu.

Mr Trewavas said he was impressed with the service on offer.

"This aircraft is not only a lot quieter than the current Beechcraft 1900D, it flies higher and faster. Once you have been on it you will be convinced it is a quality service. We have worked hard to get the best deal for the community that we could."