Sounds Air aims for Chch flights by Sept

September 7 has been identified by Sounds Air as the "anticipated start date" for a new scheduled air service between Wanaka and Christchurch.

The only problem is that while Christchurch Airport is on board, the Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) has declined to give approval.

Sounds Air managing director Andrew Crawford yesterday released the results of a survey into the level of public support for the service.

Of 3685 people surveyed over a week last month, 90% were "positive" or "strongly positive".

Mr Crawford said that showed the service would be "embraced"’ by the Wanaka community and the airline’s customer base, which included Christchurch residents.

Sounds Air proposes using two 9-seat Pilatus PC12 turbo-prop aircraft for up to 15 return flights per week initially, with up to three services per day.

Mr Crawford said he would send the survey results to the two airport companies, outlining his plans.

The QAC, backed by Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult, wants Wanaka Airport plans and assessments completed before making a decision — unlikely before October.

Mr Crawford said the company was aiming for September.

"That’s our intended start and once they see the data that comes out from the survey, they might be in agreement.

"Mayor Boult has been saying he is looking for support.

"Well, here’s an airline wanting to fly people into your region.

"How could they possibly say no?"

Mr Crawford said his service required no new airport infrastructure.

"Many Upper Clutha residents have concerns about the prospect of their community airport becoming a busy commercial operation, but ... people also recognise the clear benefits of having regular flights in and out of Wanaka.

"This service ... provides a ready and immediately workable solution," Mr Crawford said.

Of the 3685 people surveyed, 1446 (39%) lived in or owned a house in Wanaka with 87% of Upper Clutha residents "positive or strongly positive".

The QAC and Mr Boult have been approached for comment.

mark.price@odt.co.nz

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