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Exit for Kiwi Regional Airlines

NZN 17/06/2016

Kiwi Regional Airlines is folding after less than a year of operation, with Air Chathams picking up the aircraft.

Air Chathams has purchased the airline's sole Saab 340A aircraft and will employ most of the fulltime staff from August.

Ewan Wilson, the founder of failed mid-1990s Kiwi Travel International Airlines, started up Kiwi Regional Airlines in October 2015 but cuts to its schedules were announced within eight hours of opening and the Dunedin to Queenstown route went a month later.

Mr Wilson said Kiwi had a choice of either expanding by adding a second aircraft or being absorbed into a larger player.

"From my point of view I am pleased our aircraft and flight staff will become part of the Air Chatham's operation.

"We have had a formal maintenance agreement with Air Chathams since the start, and this will be an extension of that relationship," he said.

Air Chathams flies five aircraft with scheduled services between the Chathams Islands and Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch as well as a regular scheduled service between Whakatane and Auckland.

It was planning to start a service between Whanganui and Auckland on August 1 and will now use Kiwi Regional Airline's 34-seat plane rather than an 18-seat Metroliner.

Kiwi Regional Airlines will continue to run its scheduled services until July 30, and will then run the Whanganui to Auckland service for Air Chathams using its air operating certificate until Air Chathams can move the aircraft onto its own certificate.

Kiwi Regional Airlines passengers booked on flights after midday on July 30 will receive full refunds, or be offered alternative travel on flights before that date.

All of Kiwi Regional's charter flights with school groups in August and September will still operate.

"We are delighted to have bought Kiwi Regional Airline's Saab 340," Air Chathams chief executive Craig Emeny said.

Mr Wilson was banned from being a director for five years after four fraud convictions following the collapse of Hamilton-based Kiwi Air in 1996 under the weight of competition from Air New Zealand subsidiaries Freedom Air, now defunct, and Mt Cook Airlines and logistical problems created by his leased aircraft often being fog-bound at Hamilton airport.

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