Kapiti protests after Air New Zealand scraps flights

More than 200 people gathered at Kapiti Coast Airport on Sunday to protest the loss of their air service to Auckland.

Air New Zealand made the shock announcement this month that it was pulling out of the region, causing a huge public outcry.

The Kapiti community had just one month to find an alternative airline.

The announcement was especially frustrating for local businesses who rely on that link to Auckland.

Entrepreneur Katherine Corich lives between Kapiti and London and uses the service frequently.

"It's vital," she told Newshub. "We couldn't operate our business without it."

Air New Zealand's decision triggered a national debate this week about whether the national carrier had turned its back on the regions.

"There is a real feeling in regional New Zealand that Air New Zealand has been dumping on them," says Otaki MP Nathan Guy.

"That's the feeling from my community."

However, he says it's time to move on from bagging Air New Zealand and find a solution - such as Air Chathams.

The family-owned airline has built its business on flying to the regions and has its sights set on Kapiti, says general manager Duane Emeny.

"The demand is there - people want to travel out of their own airport, they don't want to have to drive an hour away to fly out of somewhere else."

Air New Zealand says it will support any airline that wishes to step in and operate the Auckland to Kapiti service.

It's been working behind the scenes with Air Chathams and other relevant stakeholders to find a solution.

Air Chathams still has to ensure its aircraft are suitable for the Kapiti runway, but should know by next week whether it can get the service off the ground