Mike Pero cancels plans to launch his own airline, Pasifika Air

The move comes days after he said the airline would be 'significantly larger than first proposed'.
The move comes days after he said the airline would be 'significantly larger than first proposed'. Photo credit: Newshub (File)

Mike Pero's dream of launching his own airline for the Pacific region has been grounded before it even took off.

The real estate millionaire and star had been planning to launch Pasifika Air and use it to operate flights between New Zealand and the Cook Islands.

Talks with an overseas airline to lease Boeing 737 aircraft were said to be well advanced and everything seemed to be on course as recently as Monday, when Pero spoke to Newshub.

He said the uncertainty around when travel bubbles would open made things difficult, but he expected to be taking bookings in June.

"We have made good progress with our aircraft, staff, crew and pilots, AOC (Air Operator Certificate) and destinations," Pero told Newshub.

"We expect our operation to be significantly larger than first proposed."

But just three days later, Pero has said the airline won't go ahead.

Speaking to NZ Herald, he sited the continuing personal financial cost as the main reason for his decision.

''My personal costs to date amount to several hundred thousand dollars, and, thankfully, not millions,'' Pero said.

''I came into this in 2020 knowing there would be challenges, but the one that continually hounds us in our decision making is the seeming reluctance to open up travel to the Cook Islands and other Pacific nations.'

"I have reluctantly decided now is not the time to launch Pasifika Air."

As well as being one of the most well known real estate agents in Aotearoa, Pero is also a commercial pilot who has been closely following the aviation industry for years.

It was expected that Pasifika Air would use aircraft leased from Virgin Australia which recently extended their suspension of services across the Tasman. The airline likely has many aircraft that have been in storage for some time, so would need work before being able to operate passenger services.

Pero also said that Air New Zealand's engineering department was no longer providing maintenance services to other airlines, which created more problems for his venture.