Enthusiasm for 'brilliant' new air link

The Oamaru business community has shown strong support for Mainland Air's new service from Oamaru Airport.

Last month, Mainland Air announced they would be launching a new service - flights between Oamaru and Christchurch - on June 4. Oamaru Airport has not been used for commercial flights since Air New Zealand's Eagle Air pulled its service in 2009.

Otago Chamber of Commerce North Otago spokesman Simon Berry said from a business perspective, the new service was ''brilliant''.

Mr Berry expects it to be well supported by the North Otago business community.

From June 4, there will be flights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week, leaving Oamaru at 7.30am and returning at 9am.

Afternoon flights from Oamaru would leave at 4.30pm and return at 6pm.

There will also be an afternoon flight on Sundays, leaving Oamaru at 4.30pm and returning at 5.30pm.

''The scheduling is spot on,'' Mr Berry said.

''A flight leaves in the morning at 7.30am and you can be in Auckland by 10am - if you're doing that from Dunedin, you have to be up by 5am.

''The same for the evening: you can be home by 6.10pm, so you can really get a full day in Auckland or Wellington, and it eliminates four hours' drive time.''

Mr Berry said the business community wanted the service to be sustainable long term as a permanent connection between Oamaru and the rest of the country.

With more access to the region, Mr Berry said Oamaru could be promoted as a conference destination.

''We'd love to see that; we've got the Opera House facilities and the accommodation,'' he said.

''It's great news for bringing people to meetings in Oamaru; they can now fly in and out in the same day.''

Mainland Air's service was a reflection of the progression of the town, he said.

''There's definitely a positive vibe in Oamaru. In the harbour area, the Farmers' Market, the historic area, it's becoming more of a destination - the tourist numbers are definitely up and the growth of the dairy sector has had its knock-on effect as well.''

A one-way ticket between Oamaru and Christchurch will cost $200.

''It's quite affordable, when you think about the time you're saving, the parking, fuel and wear and tear on your car, and it's one price, no matter if you book the same day,'' he said.

Mr Berry hoped to see good patronage from the business community and families to ensure the service's longevity.


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