You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Glide Omarama was told to stop flights by the Civil Aviation Authority on Friday, saying it needs to re-certify from being a recreational aviation organisation, to an adventure aviation operation.
All instructors and pilots would also need to be re-licensed.
A CAA spokesperson said Glide Omarama had been offering paid flights described as trial flights, but the authority views these as adventure flights - and initially told the company last year.
But Glide Omarama owner Gavin Wills said countries like Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, don't have such requirements for commercial gliders.
He said the cost of re-certification could be up to $100,000, meaning it was unrealistic for a small operator such as Glide Omarama.
"It's a huge shock to the gliding community, but not just in New Zealand, the letters of support pouring in from around the world at the moment are extraordinary. And I hadn't realised just how many people were touched and so many different places," he said.
Wills said cancellations and refunds mean the company can't operate anymore and 21 jobs will be lost.
The CAA said the certification - which comes under Part 115 of the Civil Aviation Rules - is in place to keep the public and tourists safe.
"This rule was first introduced in November 2011 to regulate the adventure aviation industry, and require operators to be certificated in much the same way as air transport operators," it said.
But Wills said gliders shouldn't be treated like other air transport operators, as they were not aircraft with engines.
He said Glide Omarama had been calling on regulations specific for gliders for a number of years, but the request appeared to have fallen on deaf ears.
"We have been non-compliant because you [the CAA] haven't been able to come up with a certification system that fits gliding."
But at the end of the day, it could not afford to apply for a re-certification and he said the 22-year business would be no more.
He also compared Glide Omarama's situation to paragliders, where the industry body could issue certificates.
"They should be allowed to issue certificates [from the industry association Gliding New Zealand], in the same way that commercial paraglider pilots, hang glider pilots and commercial parachuters are all allowed to operate on the commercial certificate issued by their industry association."
He said another obstacle was that all commercial glider pilots would also require the much more stringent class one medical certificates, whereas paragliders only required a class two medical.
Wills said the end of Glide Omarama would be a huge loss to the international gliding community.
"We are primarily a soaring school, we have been teaching people to fly from all over the world, and we run trial flights to encourage people to do that," he said.