Air Milford Operations Manager Antony Sproull said the trial service would begin on Saturday 14th January 2017, and will run every Saturday for 12 weeks through the peak tourist season. We believe the timing is ripe to re-launch this service – the first since Mt Cook Airlines ceased the link over 16 years ago. My father, Hank (Air Milford CEO), worked for Mt Cook Airline for 27 years so knows the pros & cons of this connection intimately. The tourism scene has never been busier in Queenstown or Te Anau says Mr Sproull. If Mt Cook Airline could justify 44 seat aircraft, then we should have no trouble filling our 4-12 seat machines. Air Milford operate a fleet of five aircraft including three Cessna Caravan’s. The latest Caravan is brand new from the Cessna Factory in USA, flown to New Zealand by Air Milford’s Chief Pilot in January of this year.
Mr Sproull said a feasibility study into the proposed serviced highlighted increasing frustrations with the road trip which used to be travelled comfortably under two hours, but with increased traffic and congestion at the Kawarau Bridge often took significantly longer. Flying between the two locations is a stress free 25 minutes, is statistically safer than travelling by road, and for domestic or international connections you save on airport parking fees. A special trial price of $99 per person will make this a cost-effective solution to many. Should the service exceed expectation, then a permanent service is anticipated for the summer of 2017/18.
To launch the new service an open day is planned at Te Anau Manapouri Airport between 12:30pm and 2:30pm on Saturday December 17th. Fiordland locals can enjoy scenic flights in the new Cessna Caravan in return for a donation to a local charity. The Manapouri Airport is a world class facility, and we’re already working closely with the Southland District Council to get the utilisation it deserves, explains Mr Sproull.