Dunedin-based Mainland Air is planning to launch routes from
Dunedin International Airport to Queenstown and Christchurch
within three weeks.
Mainland Air operations manager Philip Kean said it was
planned to operate flights to and from Christchurch on
Fridays and Sundays and a service to and from Queenstown on
If there was demand, the Dunedin-to-Christchurch flight could
stop in Oamaru to pick up passengers.
It was hoped the routes would be operating by October 19, Mr
The company would trial the routes during the summer and
would halt them if there were not enough passengers.
"We won't give it very long at all. Our business plan is that
if it's not paying, we will withdraw it straight away," he
Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie
welcomed the move and said there was "a lot of interest" from
business travellers in the route between Queenstown and
"It's one of the longest routes that isn't serviced in New
Zealand, but it's one that has often come to our attention,"
Mr Christie said.
He believed the convenience of being able to fly between the
two centres meant the route would be popular, as long as it
was "priced right".
Mr Kean said the proposed price for a flight to Queenstown
was about $170 each way, while a ticket to Christchurch would
cost about $200 each way. The price would be the same whether
people booked in advance or on the day of the flight.
The company's only 10-seat Piper Chieftain would be used for
both services - allowing room for nine passengers and one
The decision to launch came after interest from people who
were keen to see the company service the routes, he said.
The flights to and from Queenstown - which were not offered
by any other airline - would target business people who could
save time by taking a flight and spend more productive hours
The Christchurch flight would benefit last-minute travellers,
with tickets a "shade cheaper" than Air New Zealand's for
people who booked flights on the day.
Asked why he thought the new venture would be a success when
a service offered by the company to and from Queenstown in
2007 had to be abandoned due to a lack of passengers, he
said: "We are hopefully coming out of the recession and it
might be a good time to try it.""In 2007, everything was
peaking, then everything fell over with the recession. People
just didn't want to travel or couldn't afford to travel," he