Kāpiti Coast tourism operators are seeking solutions from their regional neighbors following Air New Zealand’s announced withdrawal from the region’s airport.
The airline said last week that it was ending its Auckland services to Kāpiti Coast Airport at Paraparaumu on April 3.
The chair of the Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce, Heather Hutchings, said Air NZ’s withdrawal was a huge loss for the region.
“We will now look to build Kapiti’s reputation as a tourism destination, to boost the local economy and support local businesses,” said Hutchings.
“We are already bringing together under the chamber umbrella all the fantastic tourism operators in the region. Wairarapa has built an excellent offering, despite having no regional airport, and we will be looking at what has worked well to replace what the withdrawal of flights leaves behind.”
Hutchings said it was disappointing Air NZ’s announcement came a week after a successful open day at the airport, where more than 1000 people visited to show their support for the daily flight service.
“We have been working with the Kāpiti Coast District Council, the Porirua Chamber of Commerce and Air New Zealand since 2017 to build demand for the flights, in recognition of the vital role they play in regional economic growth,” she added.
The Kāpiti Coast District Council said it would be working closely with the airport to attract new air services.
Mayor K Gurunathan said Air NZ was not the only airline capable of running services out of the airport and conversations with other airlines were already happening.
“Kāpiti is fast becoming a destination of choice for visitors and business alike. Our district’s share of regional and national tourism has been increasing by 10-15% year-on-year over the past three years,” said Gurunathan.
“Kāpiti is a great place to be. Kāpiti Island Nature Reserve and Kāpiti Marine Reserve continue to rate highly amongst national and international media.”
He said he was confident of the airport’s long-term future after speaking to Evan Davies from the airport’s owner, Todd Property.
“Air New Zealand had some challenges delivering a reliable service within the constraints of its national schedule and this clearly had an impact on customers’ confidence in, and use of the service. This was particularly the case for business travellers,” said Gurunathan.
“There have been a number of changes in New Zealand’s aviation market since Air New Zealand established its service out of Kāpiti and the growth in our tourism will be a real attraction to other players with more flexibility to extend their services.”
Air NZ said last week that it would support other airlines that wanted to operate the Auckland route from the airport.