New direct flight from Napier to Wairoa and Gisborne announced

Daily weekday flights begin on 26 June, carrying six passengers each, Sunair Aviation said.
Daily weekday flights begin on 26 June, carrying six passengers each, Sunair Aviation said. Photo credit: RNZ

New direct flights will be available from Napier to Wairoa and Gisborne by the end of the month.

Sunair Aviation has announced it is launching a new weekday service, after Air New Zealand's temporary Napier-to-Gisborne service was cut last week.

Hawke's Bay Airport chief executive Rob Stratford said it was vital to have an alternative connection with Wairoa and Gisborne while State Highway 2, which was closed for three months after Cyclone Gabrielle, remained vulnerable.

Daily weekday flights begin on Monday, 26 June, carrying six passengers each.

Sunair's flight operations manager Dan Power said although the road network was operational, some people might be reluctant to travel by road, and it was "good to be able to offer travellers an alternative", he said.

"Fares [are] $240 including GST one-way between Gisborne and Napier," Power said.

"And thanks to the support being offered by Hawke's Bay Airport and Wairoa District Council, we are able to reduce the Napier - Wairoa airfares to $190."

There would also be a once-daily flight from Napier to Tauranga, returning via Gisborne.

Wairoa mayor Craig Little said Cyclone Gabrielle highlighted the vulnerability of the routes in and out of Wairoa.

"Any additional connectivity layer must be a win for our community," he said.

"We recognise that due to our small population base, there will be limitations around this service and that the fares will not be the same as regional fares. However, at a time when we have lost so much, it is great to have a new service and option for our district."

Gisborne mayor Rehette Stoltz said the direct flights offered by Air New Zealand had been very popular, and having more choices would "contribute to a healthy, productive relationship between us and our Hawke's Bay neighbours".

Stratford said he could only see demand for direct air service connection growing as Hawke's Bay and Tai Rāwhiti moved further into the cyclone recovery phase.