A new larger and faster aircraft will be hitting the runway at Whakatane Airport this weekend.
Air Chathams has advised its SAAB 340A airliner will be hosting an introductory Auckland-Whakatane scheduled flight service.
The airline is waiting on the extension of Whakatane Airport’s runway end safety areas from the current 90 metres to 240 metres before it can use the larger, faster and more comfortable SAAB on a regular basis for peak demand daily services.
Funding has now been granted for this work meaning it can proceed and the airport’s joint owners, Whakatane District Council and Ministry of Transport, have indicated the work will be progressed as quickly as possible.
Air Chathams General Manager Duane Emeny says the introductory service will allow passengers to experience the level of comfort the airline hopes to be offering on a regular basis before the end of 2018.
“We know our regular fliers will appreciate the extra cabin comforts provided and look forward to the SAAB becoming a permanent feature, boosting capacity on our peak, daily scheduled services.”
Renowned for its reliability and performance, the SAAB 340 caters for up to 34 passengers, which is nearly twice as much compared to the 19 on the airline’s Metroliner lll aircraft.
The aircraft also offers a flight attendant service, in addition to the pilot and co-pilot, and cruises at a rapid 470 km/h, which is more than 20km/h faster than the Metroliner.
It’s roomy cabin and comfortable seats also offer a superior customer experience, while the availability of an on-board toilet ensures passengers won’t get ‘caught short’.
The SAAB will fly the Auckland-Whakatane scheduled service, arriving at 2.30pm on Saturday, and will return to Auckland flying the Sunday morning service leaving at 9.30am.