Oamaru to Christchurch flight service under threat

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The Mainland Air Service flights from Oamaru to Christchurch cannot continue under the current schedule, says chief executive Phillip Kean.

The five-day-a-week service was introduced by Mainland Air in June, after Mr Kean saw a market for it.

However, he said not enough people were booking flights and he was only willing to wait so long before he reassessed the situation and reviewed the schedule.

“I’ll give it a bit more time, but the way it’s heading at the moment, we won’t be able to continue, which is disappointing.”

The plane departs Oamaru at 7.30am each day, then returns from Christchurch Airport about 9am.

Mr Kean said he was happy to listen to views from the public about changing flight times.

“We will certainly consider it and if we feel it is going to bring us more customers by flying out at 7am, which we have done before, then we will look to do it.

“At the end of the day, whether we continue or not is solely up to the public and if they decide to get in behind us, or provide ideas which may help to attract customers to fly with us,” Mr Kean said.

The 10-seater plane was often occupied by only one or two people on the way to Christchurch and there was no guarantee it would return with any passengers, he said.

“The number of passengers is largely hit-and-miss; we go up with one or two, then often down with no one and that can’t continue.”

Mr Kean said he was disappointed.

“It’s definitely frustrating. We have thrown a lot of money into getting this service up and running and made nothing from it.”

By BRAYDEN LINDSAY