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Air Chathams defends need to keep Kapiti Airport open

Press Release – Air Chathams
Air Chathams rejects claims by Kapiti Coast Airport that passenger numbers are falling and says safety claims are misleading and an attempt to discourage use.

New airport owner, the property company Templeton Group, bought the airport last year from Todd Property Group. Air Chathams has seen a major shift in route performance post Covid-19. Chief Operating Officer Duane Emeny, says the Kapiti to Auckland route was the weakest of the airline’s three North Island routes pre covid-19, but not now.

“With closed borders and continual traffic issues getting South to Wellington, the route has bounced back the fastest and now has the highest load factors and yields across our network”, he says.

“Safety is paramount for all airlines. Air Chathams agrees that when Aviation Flight Information Service (AFIS) was implemented in 2013 the volume of traffic supported that investment at that time.

“Airways have undertaken an aeronautical review on whether to withdraw AFIS from Kapiti Airport. Air Chathams says Templeton’s attempt to use safety as a reason for closure before that assessment has been completed is misleading. If Airways assesses there is a safety requirement for AFIS, Air Chathams expects it to continue; if the experts say there is not, Air Chathams will accept that decision and Templeton should do so too.”.

Mr Emeny said that since Templeton Group took ownership of Kapiti Coast Airport late last year, Air Chathams has made numerous requests to meet with their Auckland based management team to discuss the forward strategy and viability for Kapiti Airport. To date no meetings have been forthcoming. Air Chathams is very disappointed that the owner has not engaged earlier with its largest commercial operator.

“We would expect that to have happened before any public statements were made, if the financial performance was so critical”, Mr Emeny said. “Public statements without such consultation are damaging to the region, and its key link to New Zealand’s air services network. We have invested heavily in the establishment and operation of our Auckland service. Our plans for our service are for growth, and we believe that the airport has a secure future. It may be that a property business could make short-term profits by closing and subdividing the land for other uses, but we know that the local community is emphatic in its support for this critical infrastructure asset.”

Air Chathams notes that:

  • Strong population growth is forecast for the Kapiti Coast and the airport is an essential link to Auckland and the South Island.
  • The airport is a key civil defence asset in the event of natural disaster in Wellington.
  • The airport offers an alternative for urgent travel when Wellington Airport is closed.
  • The airport will offer an efficient alternative to Wellington to many more people when Transmission Gully is completed
  • Other operators can offer other scheduled services and Sounds Air currently does so.

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