Nelson's Originair not flying but hopes to be back in the air soon, says Inglis

A Jetstream 32 parked outside the Originair hangar at Nelson Airport. Nelson-based Originair is temporarily earthbound but hopes to be flying again shortly, managing director Robert Inglis says.

However, it would operate a reduced service aimed mainly at the Palmerston North-Nelson route and charter work, he said.

Fairfax confirmed on Monday that the fledgling Nelson-based airline had ceased flying on Friday April 1.

Originair has been operating Nelson-Palmerston North and Nelson-Wellington, and its website-advertised schedule has flights to and from both destinations on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The website shows all Nelson-Wellington and Nelson-Palmerston North flights are  "unavailable" or "fully booked" for the next two months.

But it appears to be open for reservations on a restricted timetable from mid-June.

Airport chief executive Rob Evans said Originair had not provided any advice about a change in its timetabling or status "but you would best get any of this information from Originair themselves".

In February it emerged that the Civil Aviation Authority had placed temporary restrictions stopping Air Freight NZ Ltd from operating Originair's planes after safety concerns were raised.

Using its operating certificate, Air Freight NZ had been flying two British Aerospace Jetstream 32 aircraft in Originair livery.

Inglis said that without its own operating certificate, Originair was a "virtual airline" and had arranged a temporary fix using two Metroliners operated by Airwork NZ Ltd to get it through the peak season.

This arrangement finished at the end of last month.

He said he was expecting imminent advice from Air Freight NZ that its "one or two issues" with the CAA had been sorted out and it would begin flying for Originair again.

That would allow the airline to reinstate its booking system.

He couldn't say exactly when this would happen because the CAA's investigation had "nothing to do with Originair", but he understood the clearance was due any day.

However, if it did not come Originair had other options.

"There's at least one other party that we could operate the services with."

Originair began flying the Nelson-Palmerston North route in mid-August last year, and added Nelson-Wellington in September.

Inglis said the airline had received "very good support" on the Palmerston North route but the Wellington market had become more competitive with the arrival of Jetstar.

In a separate development, he confirmed that an Originair charter flight to Warbirds Over Wanaka at Easter was cancelled at the last minute.

This was because the Airwork operating certificate did not cover Wanaka Airport, which hadn't been known when the bookings were taken.

Originair had gone to some trouble to re-book passengers on other airlines and to provide refunds for those who decided not to go, Inglis said.

Stuff Nelson Mail