The air bridge between New Zealand and our closest international neighbours returns today, as Air Chathams takes off for Norfolk Island.
After a 15-month absence, the SAAB 340 will be carrying 34 passengers a week between Auckland and Norfolk Island.
Having only launched the route in September 2019, Air Chathams' GM Duane Emeny is delighted to return to the Australian island territory.
"We're an international airline again," said Emeny on the way to the Auckland international airport.
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"I'm off to see our friends in Norfolk who we haven't seen for a while, shake some hands and say 'Gidday'."
The plane's 3-tonne payload will be predominantly passengers but also 300 – 200 kilos of perishable goods, which will be welcome
"There's a lot of demand and they are having some trouble in terms of their shipping just because they don't have an established wharf."
While the island is served predominantly by flights out of Australia, the new route for air cargo is a vital link for our nearest overseas destination. This will be dairy cheese and luxury items that Norfolk Islanders won't have seen for a while.
Just 600km north of Auckland, the International Airport welcomes the return of the flights.
"Regionally focussed airlines like Air Chathams have played a critical role in keeping New Zealand communities connected over the past year, particularly those domestic airfreight connections that allowed fresh, high-quality New Zealand produce to get out to overseas markets," said Scott Tasker, Auckland Airport's GM for Aeronautical Commercial.
Departing at midday, today, the service will increase to twice weekly in August.
The two and a half hour route carrying winter sun-seekers will be serviced by the ATR 72 fleet, the same plane as used for the airline's Chatham Islands links.