By Darren Masters firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 19 August 2018, is a day that will go down as aviation history in New Zealand.
Earlier this year, in April, the national carrier decided to pull the pin on regional flights from Auckland to the Kapiti Coast, North of Wellington. It angered Auckland residents and quite a lot of
Franklin residents who were flying there from Auckland directly to visit family and friends. This direct flight cut hours off commute times. Rather than flying from Auckland to Wellington, hiring
a car and then making the long drive to Kapiti, one could board a flight and fly directly to the Kapiti Coast. See, Kiwis, like their Aussie cousins, do not like change. Unless change is for the better. In this case, it was not and created a void. Now, it would not be so easy to visit family and friends.
On Sunday 19 August 2018, that void was closed. I had the privilege of becoming part of New Zealand aviation history. Something travellers in droves were happy about. We were part of a special flight and were given a warm welcome by the Air Chathams staff at Auckland airport. The aircraft on this route is a SAAB 340, a surprisingly roomy and comfortable plane, known to be a workhorse in the industry. We were scheduled to depart at 1.30pm though got away ten minutes early.
Onboard were members of parliament, other press and VIP’s. Our flight, 644 rocketed into the sky bound for the Kapiti Coast. Now, what really stands out with Air Chathams is the inflight service. I would know. I flew many years for a living as cabin crew. The crew member on this special flight was Etevihe. Her friendliness, attention to detail and in flight service was just flawless. To have warm, engaging cabin staff really makes the difference to a flight experience. On arrival we were greeted by a Powhiri by local Iwi. A ceremony followed including speeches by the mayor, members of parliament, council and Air Chathams owner Craig Emeny and son Duane Emeny.
What is really outstanding about this company is that Air Chathams are family-operated. They were established in 1984 and currently have seven cabin crew and 32 pilots. They operate three 34-seat SAAB 340’s, four Metroliners, five Air Chathams Inaugural Flight to Kapiti Coast Convairs and a DC-3 for scenic flights. Weekly there are 36 Kapiti flights, 36 Whanganui flights, 34 Whakatane flights and seasonal Chatham Island summer flights as well as charter and freight work. All flights were at the time of print at capacity, three flights a day in and out of Kapiti at this stage. In summary, it was a good old fashioned, on time service that is flawless and comfortable. My return experience was just as flawless as my flight down to Kapiti.
Check Air Chathams out at www.airchathams.co.nz