Company to review air service

Mainland Air representatives will meet today to discuss the future of its Oamaru Air Service.

They will likely confirm a change in scheduling, to ensure the service is viable.

Discussions concerning rescheduling have come as a result of spread-out patronage on flights, chief executive officer Shirley Kean said.

''At this stage we're just going to have a look at rescheduling,'' Mrs Kean said.

''We're going to ... maybe cut it back to two to three days a week.''

Since June 4, Mainland Air has operated morning and afternoon return services between Oamaru and Christchurch, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Morning flights leave Oamaru at 7.30am, arrive in Christchurch at 8.10am and return to Oamaru at 8.45am.

Afternoon flights depart Oamaru at 4.30pm, returning by 6.10pm.

A Sunday flight leaving Oamaru at 4pm, landing back again at 5.40pm was likely to be cancelled altogether, Mrs Kean said.

Patronage had been ''really good'', but numbers had been too spread out. The service required five passengers on each round trip to be viable.

The majority of flights averaged three passengers travelling to Christchurch, but none coming back, Mrs Kean said.

From the outset, the company had made it clear if the service did not work for it, it would be scrapped.

''We don't want to pull out,'' she said.

''But if [rescheduling] doesn't work then we're out of there ...

''If this is not going to work, there's only so long we can keep going.''

She could not confirm a time frame to trial new scheduling before making a final decision on the service's future.

Mainland Air's passenger mix was dominated by business travellers and local travel agents had been actively promoting it for holiday-makers.

Wednesday and Friday had been the most popular travelling days.

rebecca.ryan@odt.co.nz

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