Gliding may return sooner

Glide Omarama can't afford the $100,000 to get a new licence. Photo: Supplied/ Glide Omarama
Covid-19 will determine whether Glide Omarama returns on its planned date. Photo: Supplied/ Glide Omarama
Whether Glide Omarama gets airborne before its initially planned September return depends on one thing: Covid-19.

Last month managing director Gavin Wills told the Otago Daily Times he hoped the company would return to the skies by September, albeit in a limited capacity.

However, that date might be bought forward.

‘‘Probably as soon as the lockdown arrangements lift.’’

Last month, it was announced the company, which employs 21 people, would cease operations as a licensing dispute with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) meant the roughly $1000,000 cost of compliance was prohibitive.

The issue arose when the CAA said Glide Omarama had offered paid flights, described as trial flights. The authority viewed them as adventure flights. Under its licence Part 149, the company was allowed to provide flights to those with an interest in flying.

Regardless of the outcome of conversations with the CAA it was unlikely the company would be able to operate at full capacity, given the Covid-19 outbreak and its impact on tourism.

‘‘I don't think we'll be able to run as we had before because of Covid ... I don't think we are going to need to run, at least initially, under the Part 115 certificate the department have required for us. That's what we're hoping.''

daniel.birchfield@odt.co.nz

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