Air Chathams is introducing a larger Saab 340 aircraft on its services to Whakatane, New Zealand, from 29 November, facilitating growing demand for air travel to and from the region.

The Saab will initially be used for peak demand services, and can cater for up to 34 passengers – almost double the existing Metroliner service at 19 seats.

“We’re really excited to begin bringing the SAAB to Whakatane,” said Duane Emeny, Air Chathams’ general manager. “We know our regular fliers will appreciate the extra comforts provided and this will give us some flexibility across the service where other flights exceed the Metroliner capacity. We hope to be able to offer the SAAB service more permanently in the future.”

The airline explained the Saab is faster, larger and more comfortable than the aircraft currently used, and these Whakatane flights will see a higher level of customer service as flight attendants onboard will serve tea, coffee and Tim Tams as they do on other regional flights. The larger aircraft will also have toilet facilities onboard.

The timing is expected to be perfect for the upcoming summer holiday period, but Air Chathams will monitor and assess the ongoing demand.

Whakatane District Mayor Judy Turner said the Saab service will help to boost visitor numbers to the Whakatane District just in time for the busy summer season: “This is great news for our District, and will be beneficial for locals and visitors alike. We’re grateful that our investment into the airport is being supported by Air Chathams’, and the Saab service is a great example of the airline’s commitment to the Whakatane District.”

Image: Air Chathams SAAB 340 at Whakatane Airport

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