Dunedin 'the laughing stock of the country'

Stuart McLauchlan
Stuart McLauchlan
Dunedin is a ''laughing stock'' over a proposal to launch an independent airline, Dunedin International Airport Ltd chairman Stuart McLauchlan says.

Otago Air had no chance of getting off the ground, he said.

''I don't think people appreciate the cost of setting up an airline, just the compliance cost to apply for a licence and to get through the regulatory issues,'' he said.

He believed people would be throwing their money away if they invested in such an idea and the whole episode was embarrassing for Dunedin.

''It is very concerning, because I tell you what, we are the laughing stock of the country.''

''I have had emails ... they have said they hope [the Otago Daily Times story is] an April Fools' joke.''

Mr McLauchlan also disputed arguments Dunedin International Airport was not well served.

''What you need to remember is that outside Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland and Queenstown, we are the only other city that still gets jet flights.

''Go and talk to people in Hamilton and Napier. They would love to have the services that we have got.''

In the end, the issue came down to Dunedin's economy.

''Queenstown has gone past us in terms of volume going through their airport [and] with the trends that are likely to happen in the next year or two, Nelson is going to go past us,'' Mr McLauchlan said.

''The issue around our air services is the city is not growing. If the city was growing, we wouldn't be having this discussion.''

Air New Zealand cutting its evening flight between Auckland and Dunedin earlier this year was less than ideal, but the airport was working with the airline to get the service re-instated next year.

''I believe we are well served. We have just had a little hiccup in the short-term because when the Air New Zealand fleet was replacing 737s with A320s, there was one less plane in the fleet.''

That was why Air NZ changed the schedules, but it had another plane arriving early next year.

People could still catch a 7.15pm service from Auckland, which stopped in Wellington.

''You can still get back from Auckland in the evening. It's just that you stop in Wellington for 20 minutes.''


Business plan

Business plans originate from ideas and take time. You don't come up with a well thought and market researched plan the day or week after an announcement like this. What the people have said so far indicates a lot of buisness people however are willing to at least explore the possibility, and we should encourage people to come up with ideas like this and put them out their for discussion from these ideas some will gain traction and procede to the business plan stage and some of them will actually make it into the stage where a business is actually formed.

As for demand Airport figures show increasing demand and Air NZ has said it is based on demand yet they cut the Auckland service despite it being almost constantly booked out.

Everytime competitor tries to start Air NZ suddenly find a plane and the demand to undercut them until they go away.

I suggest if we do get to the stage of starting our own then we boycott Air NZ not matter what cut price options they offer in the knowledge that they will revert to their true nature as soon as they can.

If they don't want to service us we shouldn't give them our custom.

Where is the sound business plan?

You would think instead of this 'he said, she said' stuff a sound buisness plan would have been put forward to support this idea if it has any credibility. So where is it?

Dreams simply aren't going to work and are Dunedin's problem of late.

Local bodies don't run airlines, so I would have thought it was up to other well advised and talented people to come up with and sell any such plan to gain required investment support.

If Dunedin was to see some of the economic growth the current government says is happening and the ODT are always reporting then we wouldn't have lost the service in the 1st place.

Economic growth always seems to happen somewere else while Dunedin remains stagnet or worse.

The fact is more are closing than opening, many old well established buisness once here have moved or closed.

These are challanging times, new reasonable sound busness plans that as a whole will work for Dunedin, see lost business and air services return in due coarse are badly needed.





Stadium Airways

I would like to suggest 'Stadium Airways' as the name for our soon to be new airline. We would be sure to have the biggest Airbus built with all the bells and whistles, employ a top notch crew of flight atendants and pilots and give discounts to Dunedin residents. The plane would be built at Hillside and transported to Dunedin Airport. After a grand naming ceromony by the Major we would then realise that the runway is to short, the customers are not there and the plane although shiny and new will sadly remain empty all year bar a few Hen and Stag night rentals. Hey ho but it was a good idea and only cost me a grand.

Maybe use technology?

I know this doesn't help the airport one iota, but for those business folk posting here about the difficulties they're experiencing in getting to Auckland to conduct business: ever considered video-conferencing? I appreciate that participating in 'virtual' meetings/get-togethers does not suit every situation - sometimes, you've simply gotta' be cheek-to-jowl with your client if you want the contract - but leaning on technology to yack with someone at the other end may be an effective alternative to actually hauling yourself up and down the country. (Of course, you won't accrue frequent flyer miles and the coffee you sup on from your office kitchen may not quite match what they lay-on in the Koru Club...)


Watch Air NZ offer low cost flights on GrabaSeat for the next few weeks or months to kill this idea off! Go Air Otago, I'm in.

First reaction

When I saw the first article stating that it would only take a $1,000,000 laugh was my first reaction too. Has anyone looked at the cost of a plane lately? (Hint: $20-$40 million for a small commercial plane).

Flight times?

Flight NZ463 that comes via Wellington leaves Auckland at 5.55pm, not 7.15pm.

Losing the direct Auckland -Dunedin flight makes it hard for the city's business people to do business in Auckland in one day as they now have to compete with Auckland to Wellington passengers for seats on this return flight and Wellington - Dunedin passengers as well, it's not just as simple as just booking on that service as most business people book at short notice 7-10 days out from travel

.The travel time back to Dunedin takes 3 hours with the stop in Wellington on a good day.Having to leave on the 6.50am to get a decent amount of time in Auckland makes for a long day.

Also the rescheduling of flight NZ672 to a later departure time (11.30am) from Dunedin to Auckland now means you can't get to the Auckland CBD until at least 2pm and also can't connect to the early afternoon Sydney service if travelling to Sydney.

You should be welcoming any new ideas to increase passenger numbers through your airport not bagging them.

What the?

Are these comments serious? The authors clearly didn't read the part that says "Dunedin
International Airport Ltd chairman Stuart McLauchlan". Perhaps they
don't understand what a chairman is or does, but I'm pretty sure Mr
McLauchlan has a very strong interest in growing air links to Dunedin. The fact
that he is throwing water all over this idea has nothing to do with protecting
Air NZ and others, it has everything to do with protecting Dunedin's reputation
and rate payers pockets.

Anyone suggesting "Otago Air" is
a realistic aspiration knows absolutely nothing about the aviation
industry. As has already been eloquently pointed out the cost involved just to
set up an airline is out of reach before we even consider the perpetual losses
that would be incurred due to a lack of scale, a lack of network feed, a
lack of profile and the list goes on.

Mr McLauchlan might have ruffled a few parochial
feathers but he is talking absolute sense. Dunedin would be much better placed
to put aside its ego and work together to grow South Island tourism rather than embark on foolish ventures like this.

Well that's nice

Whether I agree with the proposal or not I am pro-Dunedin, pro-progress and in favour of thinking outside the box. Calling Dunedin a laughing stock - maybe you should go somewhere else to work in the tourism area? I don't see Southern pride. Did you drop it while you were rolling on the floor laughing your backside off?


Nervous laughter from Air NZ

No doubt the hilarious emails in Stuart McLauchlan's inbox were from business associates and close cronies at Air New Zealand.  The rest of the email probably gave instructions on getting the word out in no uncertain terms that starting up a challenger regional airliine is of course absolutely impossible (never mind that it has been accomplished many times over, for decades, all over the world, even in underdeveloped regions). Fact is, there are successful regional airlines all over the world, and it could very well happen in Otago too.

Sorry Mr. McLauchlan, but because your message veers into the arena of insult and extremely negative but unsupported opinion, it simply sounds like a message delivered on behalf of the corporate interests of the people you do business with regularly.

Not so funny

Well Stuart, I am not laughing. People who want Dunedin to prosper are not laughing , and they, by and large, pay you your salary  Yes, it was an uninformed idea, but from those who care .So if an airline can't make it happen I  have an idea that will split your sides - how about a rapid rail link, from Dunedin Airport to Queenstown?  I mean a really rapid line like those in Europe - smooth, shiny, all scenic, big windows and glass roof  and with the hotel services.  Operated both ways. The Central landscape is the best for photograpic light in the country and the scenery is, well, the best .. so visitors can choose to fly into Queenstown or via  Dunedin and experience the 2.5 hr  scenic experience. 

Yes, I know a line extension would have to be made but that means freight to Qtown too - could be a monorail in the  Alex / K Gorge part ? 

Now your part is to just fly the customers into Dunedin and out again.from Christchurch. [Abridged]

100% agree

Dunedin isn't the laughing stock, its the ODT and anyone who thinks this is a great idea. Is this really the headline news story of the day?

Come on ODT....stop using your role as a media organisation to drum up paper sales through stupid stories that have no basis in reality.    



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