Kiwi Regional Airlines unhappy with Queenstown Airport and ticket sales

KRA Ewan WKiwi Regional Airlines chief executive Ewan Wilson is disappointed with tickets sales and treatment by Queenstown Airport. Next week the latest airline competitor will take its first commercial flight into the resort, with the airline expected to launch operations on October 27.

Airline chief executive Ewan Wilson said "overall we've been very disappointed with ticket sales (between Dunedin and Queenstown). We have been really surprised how poor they have been."

Wilson declined to comment on how many of the 34 seats on the SAAB 340A had been sold for the launch flight.

He said they were also "very unhappy" it had been allocated Gate 1 at Queenstown Airport, which was "miles away from the terminal" and unclearly marked for passengers.

"We have some real issues with Queenstown Airport's logistics," Wilson said.

He believed they were acting "bullish" and "don't seem hungry for new clients", he said.

"We will try hard to convince them every client is important."

However, Airport Corporation operations general manager Mike Clay said Gate 1 was assigned to the airline as it was "specifically designed for Turboprop aircraft".

"The gate is designated for passengers not required to be screened for domestic flights (under 90 seats) and is conveniently located next to Airspresso café in the main terminal concourse.

"It's approximately an extra 10 metre walk for passengers from the aircraft to the terminal."

Clay said it was disappointing to hear Wilson's comments.

"We welcome new airlines and routes and have offered Kiwi Regional Air the same facilities, terms and conditions as our other scheduled airlines," he said.

On Monday the airline's crew underwent "proofing" with Civil Aviation Authority regulators along its proposed route.

The proposed flight route included flying from Queenstown to Dunedin and back then onto Nelson and Hamilton.

The company was expecting to be given its Air Operations Certificate this week, which would allow it to apply for its regulatory approval certificate to fly commercially.

Wilson said he was confident the airline would make the launch date.

Flights would depart Dunedin for the 40 minute trip to Queenstown at 7.15am and 5.20pm on weekdays, 7.15am on Saturday and 5.20pm on Sundays.

Flights would then return to Dunedin from Queenstown at 8.25am and 6.30pm on weekdays, 8.25am on Saturday and 6.30pm on Sundays.