Hopes to get airborne again

Glide Omarama plans to be back in the air by September, albeit in an initially reduced capacity.

Last month, the 22-year-old company announced it would cease operations because a licensing dispute with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) meant the cost of compliance was prohibitive, Glide Omarama managing director Gavin Wills said.

It looked as if the company would become insolvent, with the loss of 21 jobs.

However, the enforced lockdown due to Covid-19 had given the company the chance to take stock and have some “breathing space”, Mr Wills said.

“We are putting on our optimistic face and saying yes we are going to be opening up again but that’s depending on how we end up after Covid-19,” he said.

“When we open up again it is unlikely it is at full force – we can operate at a much smaller level.’’

The dispute came 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.

Recertification would have cost the company more then $100,000, Mr Wills said.

The company was already following the safety regulations under Part-115 of the Civil Aviation Rules, the certification the CAA was requesting, Mr Wills said.

“The gliding industry is around us all the time ... our auditors are constantly in touch with us — our policemen are our peers.’’

Countries like Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, do not have such requirements for commercial gliders, Mr Wills said.

Discussions with the CAA were ongoing, but Mr Wills hoped the organisation would be more lenient as New Zealand tried to kick-start its tourism industry.

If the company managed to restart, it would then look at getting the Part-115 regulation if financially viable, Mr Wills said.


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