Regional flights start in Sept; fare $134

The new entrant to the regional airline industry says flights from Dunedin to Queenstown will begin on September 27.

Kiwi Regional Airlines (KRA) announced it had signed a sales and purchase agreement for its first Saab 340A aircraft from Polish airline Sprint Air.

The airline also announced its ticket price for the Queenstown flight would be $134 one way, with an extra $20 for baggage.

KRA chief executive Ewan Wilson, a former Dunedin man, and former boss of Kiwi Air, said he was also working towards having a three-person maintenance base in Dunedin.

The airline's operations general manager, Bill Wilson, said the purchase of the Saab marked an important milestone in enabling operations to start.

''It delivers us a fully up to date, well-maintained passenger aircraft ready to fly in New Zealand skies.''

The corporate headquarters and the reservation service for Kiwi would be in Hamilton, which would also be the base of crews for the first aircraft. The aircraft would stay overnight six nights a week in Dunedin, with the three-person maintenance base ''currently under consideration''.

Ewan Wilson said the Dunedin to Queenstown service would run twice daily Monday to Friday, with a return flight on Saturday and Sunday.

The plan for a Dunedin maintenance base had been helped by support from Mainland Air, with the offer of a hangar for hire.

There were statutory issues to be worked through, and the airline was talking to Dunedin Airport about space, and Enterprise Dunedin about assistance, considering new skilled jobs would be created.

''There seems to be a willingness from all parties to make something work.''

Ewan Wilson owns 54.55% of the shares in the airline.

The other shareholders, with 22.73% each, are Auckland-based used-car importer 2Cheap Cars and Nicole Domett, of Hamilton.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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