The new service is being operated by Air New Zealand regional subsidiary Air Nelson, with 18 return flights per week between the Kapiti Coast and Auckland.

The first commercial flight leaves Paraparaumu at 6.55am tomorrow, arriving into Auckland at 8.05am.

The new Kapiti Coast Airport will be officially opened this afternoon (Monday) with more than 200 invited guests expected to be at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Paraparaumu.

They will also have the opportunity to inspect the aircraft being used on the new route, and in line with the theme of investing for the future, listen to speeches being delivered by children on behalf of representatives of Kapiti Coast Airport Ltd, Air Nelson, government and the Kapiti community.

Air Nelson General Manager Grant Kerr says it’s an exciting time for those living on the Kapiti Coast, with the new direct service set to save customers time and money.

“Those living on the Kapiti Coast will no longer have to make the one-hour drive into Wellington Airport - instead they’ll be able to fly direct to Auckland in one hour ten minutes,” he says.

Mr Kerr says there is a large catchment area for the new service, with around 110,000 people living in the area that stretches from Levin in the North to Tawa, near Wellington.

He says there has been a tremendous amount of work on technical enhancements to Kapiti Coast Airport to allow for the introduction of commercial services. This has involved significant input from the Civil Aviation Authority and Airways Corporation.

Among the enhancements are a new runway and re-designed terminal, which has a bach theme to emphasis the region’s many beaches and relaxed atmosphere.

Kapiti Coast Airport owner Sir Noel Robinson, who has a long family association with the Coast, says the new airport is a significant investment for future generations.

“I genuinely believe this airport will have a huge impact on the Kapiti Coast for many generations to come,” he says.

“The Kapiti community has got so many things going for it…a new airport, great rail services and future national roading improvements as well as 46kms of beautiful beaches, wonderful park lands and a fantastic climate. It’s a great place to bring up families …and now with the airport up and running I know it’s going to be one of the most sought-after destinations to visit and live in New Zealand.”

Mr Kerr anticipates strong support for the new service and says bookings are where he expects them to be.

“As Kapiti locals increasingly support the service, we believe others living on the northern side of Wellington will be keen to avoid the gridlock that traditionally occurs between Wellington city and Wellington Airport to the south.”

Mr Kerr says passengers choosing the new service instead of a jet service will also benefit from Air New Zealand’s FastBag service - which allows Elite, Gold and Koru members travelling on Link services to drop their bags off at the aircraft and pick them up right after landing, and eligibility for the Starfish Discount, which enables all travellers flying between regional destinations to obtain up to a 30% discount off each flight.

The new schedule has been designed to support business customers travelling between northern Wellington and Auckland and also to encourage Aucklanders to enjoy a weekend on the Kapiti Coast.

Visit Air New Zealand’s website www.airnewzealand.co.nz to view the schedule for the service and pricing as well as other fantastic Air New Zealand deals and destinations.

Ends

Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs ph +64 21 747 320