Air service to Chch to end

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Mainland Air have announced that their flights from Oamaru to Christchurch are finishing.

Sunday afternoon will be the last time the flights travel between the two locations.

The air service has been running for a little under three months after the first flight took off on June 4.

Mainland Air chief executive Shirley Kean said the venture had definitely been worth trying.

“At the time, we saw an opening in the market and thought that a flight from Oamaru to Christchurch would be a fantastic option.”

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the air service, Mrs Kean said, and pilot Sven Thelning had found another position.

“We had some customers who were really supportive when they required a flight and that was awesome, but unfortunately we never had enough passengers to keep the flight service in Oamaru,” she said.

Mainland Air were trying their best to keep the service up and running, but were losing too much money.

“If we were making a profit or even just breaking even, then we would have continued, but you just can’t continue if you’re losing money.”

Mrs Kean said they really enjoyed their time in Oamaru and trying to make the flight work.

“We are a bit disappointed in not being able to continue. We gave it a good crack but decided the best thing to do was pull the plug rather than stay open and having little business.”

While they were hoping to continue flying out of Oamaru, lowering the prices of tickets was never an option.

“We were never going to lower the prices; they were aimed at businesses, not families, and we can’t afford air fares like Air New Zealand have. For a small air service, that’s just not viable.”

Business over the past couple of weeks had slowed down and that led to the decision to close down rather than changing the days to suit customers.

However, if Oamaru did require an air service again in the future, Mrs Kean did not rule out them returning.

“You can never say never. if the market is there, we’ll look at it.”

They will continue to operate flights out of Dunedin and chartered flights to Oamaru will remain.

By BRAYDEN LINDSAY