Eagle Air announces new service

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean fears a new timetable for Oamaru's air service will not suit the travel requirements of the North Otago district.

From May 18, the service from Oamaru to Christchurch, operated by Air New Zealand subsidiary Eagle Air, will leave at 9.35am, instead of 7.05am, while the service from Christchurch to Oamaru will leave at 8.30am rather than 6.20pm.

The airline will not continue to operate a service to Christchurch on a Friday night or to Oamaru on a Sunday night.

A regular commuter on the morning flight, Mrs Dean said the existing service allowed business people to conduct a full day's business in Christchurch or catch a connecting flight to other centres and still return home the same day.

The changes had been made following a review of the service which showed there were many more customers using the service to Oamaru rather than out of the town, Eagle Air general manager Grant Kerr said.

It had been difficult to achieve optimal aircraft loads under the existing schedule and it was hoped the new flights would give the service a positive boost, Mr Kerr said.

Customer feedback was that business people flying into Oamaru would prefer to arrive in the morning rather than the evening.

But Mrs Dean believed the new service had been "set up to fail" at a time when the future of the Waitaki Valley and North Otago has never looked better.

The number of people travelling with her seldom fell below nine.

Having travelled on many other smaller commuter services, that was a better percentage than many, she said.

"Those who say the new timetable will better serve the needs of North Otago people are talking rubbish."

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