Wanaka Airport manager Ralph Fagan lends former Wanaka
Community Board chairwoman Ngaire Kilpatrick a hand as she
leaves for Christchurch on an Eagle Air flight yesterday.
Photo by Mark Price.
Three part-time jobs at Wanaka Airport will be lost when
Eagle Air suspends its daily Wanaka-Christchurch flights from
Wanaka-based Southern Alps Air has the contract to provide
check-in and aircraft ground-handling services for the Air
New Zealand subsidiary. Co-owner Anne Cooper told the Otago
Daily Times yesterday the company had already given Eagle Air
the required three months' notice to end the arrangement
before the suspension of flights was announced on Wednesday.
She and her husband, Paul, took on the ground-handling
contract a year ago but found it was "not sustainable"
The end of the air service would have no impact on their own
air charter business, but three staff working a total of five
hours a day seven days a week would be out of a job. They
included well-known airport identity George Smythe, who had
been providing ground-handling services since Eagle Air began
flying into Wanaka in 2004.
Eagle Air said the service was being suspended because it was
Wanaka airport manager Ralph Fagan said yesterday he was not
surprised at the suspension, as many Wanaka people chose to
drive to Queenstown for cheaper air fares.
"It's the old story: use it or lose it. It's as simple as
that. It's a numbers game and if the numbers are not there,
it just doesn't happen."
Yesterday, 14 people arrived on the 19-seat Beechcraft 1900D
aircraft from Christchurch and the plane left with a full
complement of passengers. Eagle Air has declined to provide
details of its average loading, citing commercial
One of those departing yesterday was former Wanaka Community
Board chairwoman Ngaire Kilpatrick, who now lives in
She was disappointed the service she used every couple of
months was ending.
"Living in Christchurch, I miss the mountains and the lakes,
the beauty of the place, and my friends, so coming back is
like coming home, really.""I'll be devastated if I have to
fly to Queenstown and someone has to come and pick me up."
Mrs Kilpatrick said the community had spent a lot of money
improving Wanaka Airport, including the recently completed
The airport is managed by the Queenstown Airport Authority
and chief executive Scott Paterson said yesterday the
authority would not "give up" trying to secure a scheduled
airline for Wanaka.
He did not know what alternatives there were to Eagle Air "at