Two years in and Air Chathams is so confident with its move into the Whanganui market, it is holding up the service as an example to other communities and talking expansion.

Air Chathams took over the Whanganui-Auckland route in August 2016 after national carrier Air New Zealand pulled out of the service.

General manager Duane Emeny said Air Chathams had settled into Whanganui and was well-liked in the community.

"It's good, in a word," Emeny said.


"We're very happy with Whanganui. We get a huge amount of positive feedback from the community which is really good."

Air Chathams will begin flying between the Kāpiti Coast and Auckland on August 20, again picking up a route ditched by Air New Zealand.

"We've used the Whanganui example over and over and over again when we've been talking with the council and community in Kāpiti because we feel there are parallels," Emeny said.

"What we have seen with the majority of passengers choosing not to drive 50 minutes [from Whanganui] to Palmerston North and flying out of there gives us confidence that we can do the same in Kāpiti where the drive to Wellington is slightly longer.

"We using the same model and aircraft type for Kāpiti Coast as in Whanganui so we have every chance of succeeding.

"Now it's onwards and upwards. The key for us in the next 12 months is product development."

This would include working more closely with larger carriers and providing interconnectivity for passengers with other airlines.

Commercial agreements with larger flag-carrying airlines, such as Air New Zealand, and inclusion of Air Chathams' schedules in the global distribution system used for booking flights would increase awareness of flights to places like Whanganui, Whakatāne and the Chatham Islands.


"We want to make sure Whanganui and other smaller centres have better visibility globally," Emeny said.

"We hope those changes will increase [passenger] numbers coming through Whanganui."

Flights to Christchurch could be a future possibility, Emeny said.

"Right now we're prioritising the new Kāpiti service and we need to make sure we can run that successfully. It's really important we do a good job there and get local community support to make that successful.

"From there it allows the airline to grow and develop and look at the potential for Christchurch flights. You never know until you try."

The airline is also considering introducing its first international flight on the Auckland-Norfolk Island route.

"The challenge is making sure we plan for that growth," Emeny said.

"Making the step from being a reasonably small operation to a larger second tier airline and resourcing it and doing it properly and having the experience and team to do that."

With the future in mind, Air Chathams has recently employed experienced staff from major airlines, including a flight operations manager and a safety manager to develop the airline's safety management systems.