An alleged incident onboard Air Chathams' first Whanganui flight post-Covid-19 lockdown put a dampener on the celebrations, with a 30-year-old man arrested on arrival in Whanganui.

Police were called to Whanganui Airport to meet the flight from Auckland to Whanganui, which landed at 4pm yesterday.

A police spokeswoman said a passenger refused to comply with directions of cabin crew several times despite warnings, and made an inappropriate comment to staff on the plane.

Mayor Hamish McDouall welcomed passengers on the flight. Photos / Lewis Gardner
Mayor Hamish McDouall welcomed passengers on the flight. Photos / Lewis Gardner

He was arrested and is expected to appear in court at a later date. Charges are yet to be confirmed.


After a delay, the remainder of the 17 passengers were greeted by Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall, who hailed the resumption of services as a positive step in the Covid-19 economic recovery.

"I'm delighted to see Whanganui rally behind Air Chathams," McDouall said.

"It's a good sign that we are on the path to recovery and great to get the air route open again for visitors as well. From here, I want to encourage our whole community to get behind Air Chathams and utilise this critical service we have on our doorstep."

Air Chathams general manager Duane Emeny said the airline and Emeny family, which owns it, had been overwhelmed by the messages of support received from the Whanganui community and its business leaders.

"Covid-19 has been a huge blow to our airline but we are excited and motivated to rebuild and continue to provide the safe, reliable service our reputation has been built on."

Pahia Turia, chairman of economic development agency Whanganui & Partners, welcomed the resumption of the Whanganui-Auckland service.

"I have been encouraged by the collective approach taken by our council, Whanganui business leaders and the Whanganui & Partners team to support the reopening of this critical air route," Turia said.

The airline is operating a revised flight schedule, with the Whanganui service reduced to 24 flights a week.


The flights will take fewer passengers to allow for physical distancing and, along with beefed-up cleaning and sanitising routines, there will be compulsory masks for passengers and crew.