Wānaka Stakeholders Group (WSG) are asking for feedback from Upper Clutha residents on proposed scheduled flights between Wānaka and Christchurch
Regional airline Sounds Air, a private company operating flights between Wellington, Picton, Nelson, Blenheim, Taupo, Westport, Christchurch and Kapiti, has proposed a new regular, scheduled service between Christchurch and Wānaka airports.
Sounds Air carries around 115,000 passengers each year via a fleet of six Pilatus PC12’s and four Cessna Caravans.
The airline is seeking feedback on their proposal of up to 15 return flights a week between Wānaka and Christchurch, with flights every day (up to three per day), via an online survey. The flying time would be approximately 45 minutes, and fares would range from $169 to $279 each way. Booking would be via Sounds Air's website or 0800 phone line.
The Christchurch to Wānaka sector would be operated in Pilatus PC12 9 seater pressurised aircraft. These planes cruise at up to 30 thousand feet with nine passengers who can bring 20kg of luggage each.
According to Sounds Air Travel & Tourism Managing Director Andrew Crawford, the service could be up and running within six weeks once approval was granted from Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC)- which he was “hopeful” would be received. No additional infrastructure is required at Wānaka Airport - Sounds Air would use the existing runway, terminal building and local staff.
Crawford said that although a Wānaka-Christchurch service offered by Air New Zealand between 2004 and 2013 was discontinued due to a lack of demand, their midday flights went at the “wrong time” - instead, a “morning and evening service” was needed. Wānaka’s population had also grown in that time.
“From what we’re hearing anecdotally, it’s a service that’s wanted down there,” said Crawford.
WSG Deputy Chair Mark Sinclair said that the group had “always been in favour of a turbo-jet service linking Wānaka to key airports,” to “meet demand” without requiring the development of a jet airport in Wānaka.
QAC was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.
Feedback can be given via a confidential, independent survey, linked from the WSG Protect Wānaka and Sounds Air Facebook pages and websites. The survey will take three minutes to complete.
Read Edition 980 of the Wānaka Sun here.