Air Chathams has bought a new plane to use on the Whanganui to Auckland route.

The airline, which is taking over the route from Air New Zealand in August, bought Kiwi Regional Airlines' Saab 340A.

The aircraft has 34 seats, almost twice as many as the 18-seat Metroliner the company had planned to use. "The aircraft is a respected aircraft type in New Zealand and has been very well-maintained," chief executive Craig Emeny said.

Air Chathams is also offering employment to the majority of Kiwi Regional's full time staff, and will absorb them into its operations from the beginning of August. Kiwi Regional Airlines will continue to run its scheduled services until July 30, then will run the Whanganui to Auckland service for Air Chathams using their Air Operating Certificate [AOC] until Air Chathams can move the aircraft onto its own AOC.


Whanganui MP Chester Borrows said it was "heartening" to see Air Chathams had made a "significant purchase to support the Whanganui route".

"Travellers will be pleased that it's a bigger plane than the metroliner. What we really need now is for Whanganui people to travel out of Whanganui to maintain the viability of the route."

He wanted to thank the airline for "all they're doing."