Commuter airline North Shore Air is grounding its scheduled Tauranga flight to North Shore just a month after the twice-daily service began.
Scheduled flights between Tauranga, Dairy Flat and Kerikeri were introduced on September 28, but CEO Peter Newman has confirmed the route has been halted as of today.
The first North Shore Air flight from Dairy Flat in Auckland landed in Tauranga on September 28, but the service lasted a little over a month. Photos: Grayson Ottaway.
“Our situation at the moment is that we're only available for charter,” says Peter. “Our scheduled flights never got the numbers required to break even, so basically it's all gone a bit pear shaped.
“But there's no easy way. It was either pull out while we could manage an exit, or wait until we hit the wall.”
North Shore Air were hoping to see a minimum of three-to-four passengers on each eight-seater flight, but often took off with just single passengers on board.
“It was a heavy hit, and we just don't have deep enough pockets to hang in there for much longer.”
The company have spoken to a number of possible backers over the course of today, but without significant investment, North Shore Air will be confined to charter flights only in future.
“We have also pulled the website,” says Peter. “We were advertising for the schedule, but we will probably put it up again and just have charter flights available.
“We have always had that, but it was secondary to trying to establish a bread and butter base first. If we do carry on the charter is the safest option. Basically you only operate it at a profit.”
Peter admits there was also resistance to the $195 one way fare.
“People expect the airfares of be $80-$95 at most. At $195, it was just way out of line.
“I'd say 50 per cent didn't want to operate on that fare schedule. A few years ago the fares were more realistic, but just lately there's been an expectation for fares to be really low.”
Blogsite 3rd Level New Zealand commented that North Shore Air's signage has been removed from the Dairy Flat airfield. The North Shore Aeroclub, which operates the Dairy flat airfield, had no comment to make this morning.
Comments on the blog suggest the airline simply ran out of money, with passenger numbers from Tauranga understood to have been around three or four per flight, on an aircraft with room for eight.
North Shore Air offered flights from Tauranga to Dairy flat and from Dairy Flat to Kerikeri. With a bus connection from Dairy Flat, the airline boasted it could place Tauranga commuters in Auckland's central business district quicker than Air New Zealand passengers landing at the city's main airport in Mangere.