Air Chathams is implementing a "bus stop" model to help the company get through the latest Covid-19 Omicron outbreak, reinstating a model similar to what was used in the olden days.
The bus stop model means passengers travelling from Kāpiti to Auckland will have an additional stop in Whanganui on their way, with the same stop on the way back.
"What this means for Air Chathams in this particular climate, is we can still provide the key services into the regions and Auckland, using the larger 30-seater Saab 340 with cabin crew and the space which business travellers are used to," Air Chathams chief operating officer Duane Emeny said.
"One of our concerns as Omicron begins to move throughout the community is that if one of our cabin crew, engineers, pilots or even administration staff get Covid-19, then it's the isolation stand-down that would have a serious effect on flights.
"By operating using this model we do not have to double down on resources.
"We're going back to the old school."
Duane said while it was not the most efficient model, it still works well.
"Stopping in on the regions on their way up and down the country was a normal service model which worked for airlines in the past, so we are bringing it back for the foreseeable future.
"A lot of airlines used to do it, even in New Zealand back in the day.
"It's not the most efficient way to do it, which is why we've gone to a more hub-and-spoke model where the regions connect into a major hub."
The good news for Kāpiti is the airline is doing all it can to continue providing its daily commuter flights despite a large reduction in bookings due to the red traffic light setting.
"We're already seeing the trend where people for a variety of reasons do not want to travel and a lot of plans are changing with their events, conferences and concerts cancelled.
"The good news is that to fly from Kāpiti to Auckland you're effectively flying over Whanganui so there's not much of an added time factor - you're not going out of your way with this journey."
Flights will depart Kāpiti, when they reach Whanganui the plane will be on the ground for about 15 minutes while more passengers board, and then it will head straight up to Auckland.
"The time difference will be minimal.
"For our morning flight out of Kāpiti, we are looking at getting passengers on board 15 minutes earlier to compensate for the time on the ground in Whanganui.
"You will make it to Auckland at the same time."
Without implementing the bus stop model, Air Chathams would have to look at the current flight schedule and either reduce the frequency of flights heading out of Kāpiti or use a smaller aircraft.
Both options are not ideal for the business community, which Duane said makes up the core of their customers.
"A smaller aircraft and reduced flight schedule is not the ideal customer product that business travellers who are supporting our service out of Kāpiti are wanting.
"We don't want to discourage our core market, especially at a time where we need bums on seats."
Using the bust stop method is also a safety measure, which the company said will enable them to continue operating should an outbreak hit their staff.
"We're trying to be proactive rather than reactive," said Air Chathams marketing and sales manager Rebecca Jones.
"Everyone's a bit freaked out with what's happening with Omicron globally, so we're just trying to be a bit proactive.
"It means we have more flexibility to operate if Omicron gets into the business and we have restrictions on staff.
"We have over 130 staff to look after and want to make sure Air Chathams survives this outbreak."
The bus stop model is planned to start soon after Waitangi Day.
With frequent cleaning of the plane after each flight, all staff fully vaccinated and using the Covid Clean Approved assessment through Qualmark to make sure their standards of hygiene and PPE usage are above par and meet all government requirements, Air Chathams will continue to operate in the red traffic light setting.
Customers are expected to travel with a physical or digital copy of their Covid-19 Vaccination Certificates (CVCs) or provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours prior to departure.