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Sounds Air Introduces New Fare Structure To Help Protect Regional Air Services

Sounds Air has today confirmed it is increasing fares on its Westport and Taupō routes, in response to the extremely challenging economic conditions facing the aviation industry.

Sounds Air CEO Andrew Crawford says, “we use a dynamic pricing model across our routes, but the combination of increasing fuel prices, maintenance costs and supply chain issues have been a triple-whammy for the aviation industry and put particular strain on those sectors with tighter financial margins.

“While we continue to experience strong demand for our services, the escalating costs have meant that, as a company, we have been subsidising the Wellington to Taupō and Wellington to Westport sectors since COVID-19 hit. Fuel prices alone have added over $2.5 million in cost to our business in the last three years.

“We recognise the importance of air connectivity for these regions, so we continue to constructively and pro-actively engage with key stakeholders including District Councils, local business leaders and service providers such as District Health Boards, in an attempt to ensure the ongoing viability of these routes. All options are being considered and include potential co-investment into regional infrastructure. Sounds Air is confident that, with the vital support of both public and private sector partners, it will achieve the long-term sustainability that both the company and these communities need.”

Buller District Mayor Jamie Cleine comments, “when Sounds Air alerted me to the company's challenges on the route, I wanted to ensure all key stakeholders had an opportunity to show the importance of a viable air service to our district. The response from that broad stakeholder group was highly positive and reinforced the options available to Sounds Air to build route sustainability. This is a regional connectivity issue, and we must do what we can to support ongoing passenger flights to Westport.”

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Taupō District Mayor David Trewavas says Sounds Air provides a valuable link between the Taupō district and the capital: “Sounds Air’s flights are vital for connecting our business community and our visitors to Wellington. I’ve flown with them plenty of times over the years when council business takes me to Wellington and can’t speak highly enough of how efficient, friendly and reliable their service is.”

Mr Crawford says that passing on a share of the increased operating costs to customers via a $50 increase to the Wellington-Westport and Wellington-Taupo fares is an unfortunate but necessary first step to ensure the ongoing viability of these routes.

“By improving our overall return on investment, we will be well positioned to continue investment into the electrification of our fleet and adding additional regional services across the network.”

Sounds Air Background Information:

Sounds Air has been operating for over 30 years, connecting regional New Zealand with flights between 9 destinations nationwide. The privately-owned company currently employs 85 staff to operate 300 flights each week, from Taupo in the North to Wanaka in the South. Sounds Air runs a fleet of four Cessna Caravans and six Pilatus PC12s, which are single engine, turbine powered aircraft, ideally suited to servicing the regional routes.

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