29 April 2016

Happy Birthday Air Chathams Whakatane

Passengers on yesterday’s (27 April) Air Chathams flights between Whakatane and Auckland celebrated with cake. At Christmas the airline wrapped up little Cadbury Favourites boxes and gave them to all the passengers that travelled on Christmas Day. Yesterday it marked its first year of servicing the Eastern Bay in a similar way with miniature cakes, baked by customer services manager Grey Tinley, who is a chef by trade. Airline general manager Duane Emeny said the cakes were a bit of a “novelty” but otherwise the airline took a low key approach to the anniversary and didn’t do anything major. However, he has confirmed that the airline is very happy with its first year of operation, so much so it has recently invested well over $1 million in purchasing two additional aircraft. As of May 16 it will have 18-seater Metroliners dedicated to the Eastern Bay. “We will be using both of the aircraft for the Auckland-Whakatane schedule. “We’ll also be putting a lot more effort into generating the charter market and right now we are doing our study on the [possibility of a] Whakatane-Wellington flight. “This is still something we would like to do if the numbers work out and it makes sense.” Mr Emeny said flight loadings had increased over the past year, with people now clearly embracing Air Chathams as the Eastern Bay’s carrier. He believes a lot of traffic that Air New Zealand managed to pull away from the region when it left, is now returning. The big learning curve at the start was getting the schedule right and Mr Emeny thinks it’s about right now with three return flights daily and one return flight at the weekend. “We started with the Convair and a schedule that didn’t really meet the business requirements.  “We had the Convair starting – the earlier flight and the later flight – and the Metroliner flying in the middle of the day. “But we found from the feedback we got that people wanted frequency; they wanted more flights and they wanted a more business oriented-schedule. “And also the friends and relatives, they didn’t want to get up and go on a 6.45am flight. “They would rather have a sleep-in and leave at 11am.” Another success has been the scheduled DC3 flights, due to return in October. “Whakatane can claim to be the only DC3 scheduled operator in the southern hemisphere … which is pretty cool for a small place,” Mr Emeny said. “We’re going to bring it back a bit better so it will depart earlier on Saturday morning and come back later on Sunday out of Whakatane so people that purchase those tickets can spend the whole weekend in Whakatane. “They can go out to White Island, cycle the Motu trails, they can do walks, go to all the nice cafes and hopefully it’s a way of promoting the area as a tourism destination which it is.”

Source : Whakatane Beacon, 28 April 2016

1 comment:

  1. Long finals over East Papamoa got me looking up as it was easy to make out the distinctive sounds of the Metro and deeper throb of the CV. Weekends P&W added. Well done Chats and Whakatane for successfully making a go of it.