Mainland Air's proposal to use the Oamaru Airport for passenger flights has the support of local leaders, but for it to be successful Oamaruvians must get on board - literally.
Mainland Air is planning to launch services from its base at Dunedin to Queenstown and Christchurch within three weeks and, if there is sufficient demand, the Dunedin-Christchurch flight could call at Oamaru.
Mainland Air operations manager Phil Kean said flights would be to and from Christchurch on Fridays and Sundays and, depending on demand, flights on other days of the week could be arranged.
Mr Kean said he had very positive feedback from local authorities last week.
He will meet with Waitaki District Council property manager Dougall McIntyre today to discuss the proposal.
Waitaki Tourism Board chairman Annabel Berry said she was 100 per cent supportive of Mainland Air.
"Ever since the airport closed in 2009, we've been fighting to get it back so we're thrilled that they will take a shot at Oamaru," Mrs Berry said.
It would open up more opportunities for tourism, business, events and conferences.
When before, tourists might bypass Oamaru, flying straight from Christchurch to Dunedin, this opened up an opportunity for them to visit Oamaru.
However, Mrs Berry said to ensure the service was sustained, it needed the support of Oamaruvians.
Until they are able to reach the tourism market, the service would rely on local support, she said.
"If anyone is thinking of going to Christchurch, we encourage them to book with Mainland Air."
Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said it was "very encouraging" news.
"It's wonderful that Mainland Air have confidence in Oamaru's economy and I always applaud people who are doing something a bit different," Mrs Dean said.
"I would use the flights whenever I can."
Otago Chamber of Commerce Waitaki advisory committee chairman Gary Kircher said a quick travel option would help attract more people to Oamaru, especially for conferences.
"It's yet another good reason for people to be based in Oamaru and selling goods and services to the world," he said.
"It's all about those connections, I look forward to seeing more details of the service."
From past experience, Mr Kircher said Mainland Air must offer a good frequency, accessibility and price to be successful.
He said he was confident there was demand for the service in Oamaru.
North Otago Aero Club chief flying instructor Sven Thelning said the Waitaki District Council had done a "fantastic" job of maintaining the site and keeping it tidy.
While the Aero Club did not have the means to offer that service, Mainland Air did and he was supportive of their offer to give it a shot.
He backed Mrs Berry in saying it would require initial support from the people of Oamaru to ensure its continuation.
Pen-y-Bryn lodge co-owner James Glucksman said guests often commented on the need for an airport in Oamaru.
"We just had a guest this morning who said it would make it a lot easier for them to come to Oamaru for a weekend," Mr Glucksman said.
After reading of Mainland Air's proposal in Friday's Oamaru Mail, Mr Glucksman contacted a number of travel agents nationally and internationally, notifying them of the idea.
"They thought it would be a great thing for the town," he said.