25 Jun 2015

Origin founder rises again

1:24 pm on 25 June 2015

A new airline has announced plans for daily flights on two regional routes.

Originair plane

Photo: Supplied

Originair founder Robert Inglis said a daily service between Nelson and Palmerston North would start in August and flights between Nelson and Wellington would start in September.

Mr Inglis, who has a long history in operating regional airlines, said the opportunity came about after Air New Zealand announced last year it was ending some regional services.

"I've always had an interest in the Nelson-Palmerston route and I was aware that I had an aircraft coming off lease so the process started, I guess, late last spring."

Originair's head office has opened in central Nelson. The airline will employ up to 20 staff in Nelson and Palmerston North, and the fleet will comprise two 19-seat Jetstreams.

Originair founder Robert Inglis.

Originair founder Robert Inglis. Photo: Supplied

Mr Inglis started Air Nelson in 1979 with Nicki Smith. Air New Zealand purchased 50 percent of the airline in 1988, then the total shareholding in 1996 and still operates it today.

Mr Inglis and Ms Smith then started Origin Pacific Airways in 1996 as a feeder airline for Qantas. It went into liquidation in 2006 after Qantas' Jet Connect cancelled a contract that resulted in Origin losing 60 percent of its business.

But Mr Inglis never lost his enthusiasm for aviation.

"We have our other businesses operating in good shape at the moment and I was encouraged by others that are keen to assist, and a great deal of lobbying from local people asking for that direct service," he said.

"This is not something that is difficult for us to achieve. We have operated Nelson-Palmerston-Wellington routes for a long time - since the 1980s. If we can do something that adds a little more choice for Nelson travellers then I'm happy to do that."

Mr Inglis has collaborated with two companies from the Freightways Limited Group, Air Freight NZ Ltd and Fieldair Engineering Ltd, to carry out flight operations and fleet maintenance. He said both companies had decades of relevant aviation experience.

Originair will be the third airline, behind Kiwi Regional Airlines and Jet Star, to announce plans for new services to provincial centres.

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