Originair resumes flights to Palmerston North

Originair managing director Robert Inglis with one of the Nelson airline's Jetstream aircraft. Nelson-based Originair will resume direct flights between Nelson and Palmerston North in September .

It will also operate some flights for the upcoming school holidays from July 15 and its charter services are available.

The fledging Nelson-based airline ceased flying on April 1, after launching in August last year.

Managing Director Robert Inglis said the disruption to the airlines' services was caused by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) placing a restriction on its Air Operator's Certificate.

"It has taken some time to transfer all our aircraft records from our previous operator to [new operator] Inflite." Originair's operator Air Freight NZ was unable to operate the company's flights in February as the CAA investigated reported safety concerns.

CAA official information officer Karl van der Plas said a report into those concerns was still being completed.

Inglis said the disruption to Originair's flights was disappointing but he was confident in the new arrangement with Inflite Charters.

One of Originair's jetstream aeroplanes is leased from the Auckland company.

"I have worked with that company for probably three decades at least so I'm very comfortable with that relationship."

The Nelson/Palmerston North service will initially focus on peak days each week before increasing services in-line with demand in the high season.

Inglis said industry shifts since Originair ceased flying - the introduction of Jetstar's Nelson routes and the sale of Kiwi Regional Airlines - necessitated some changes.

Kiwi Regional Airlines was folded into Air Chathams last month after it struggled to cope a drop in business over winter with only one aircraft, owner Ewan Wilson said.

Inglis said Originair workers had moved to Jetstar since April and a new Originair staff would be employed by Aerocare NZ.

Asked if he would consider taking on Kiwi Regional's routes he said "certainly the long Nelson to Christchurch [route] doesn't interest me".

"I have operated the Nelson-Hamilton [flight] in the past and that could be an option but we certainly haven't made a decision."

He said Originair would focus first on the growing in-bound market.

Palmerston North Airport chief executive David Lanham said the airport worked with Originair to set-up check-in counters and hanger space.

"It's great to have that direct link to Nelson back up and running again and we're sure it will be well used."

Robertson Holden general manager Bryan McKay works from Nelson but regularly flies to the Palmerston North car yard.

He said the return of a direct connection between the two cities would make a huge difference to businesspeople and regular commuters.

"It's fantastic, no two ways about it. Since the route has been down it's been a long and expensive journey to get to Palmerston North."

 - Stuff