Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wilson Flexes His Wings Again

Lean and keen: Ewan in the 90s
If the name Ewan Wilson sounds familiar, just cast your mind back twenty years...
Wilson was the founder of Kiwi Air a.k.a. Kiwi Travel International Airlines, a NZ-based budget airline that pioneered discount flights between secondary airports in Oz and NZ in the mid-1990s.
Kiwi Air forced Air NZ to establish Freedom Air as a counterfoil, and succeeded in bringing trans-Tasman fare prices to historic lows. But Air NZ eventually forced Kiwi Air to the wall...and then, not too long afterwards, it shut down its own Freedom Air.
Wilson: a little older, a little wiser?
Ewan Wilson was convicted on four counts of fraud in 1996...but that's another story.
Well, Ewan's back in the air again - almost. The Hamilton City councillor is now CEO of his own Kiwi Regional Airlines (KRA), with plans to fly the regional routes that Air NZ's deemed uneconomical.
He's announced a six-day-a-week direct service between Tauranga and Palmerston North (55 mins), connecting to Nelson, plus a daily Dunedin-Queenstown-Nelson service.
The flights are planned to start by early next year, in two SAAB 340s (plus another one to be added later) that Wilson plans to buy himself - as opposed to the lease arrangements of the original KiwiAir.
Wilson says KRA has deliberately avoided head-to-head competition with Air NZ, instead choosing direct routes that had either not been flown for some time or were being exited by Air NZ.
Last month, Defence Minister "I Break Aviation Rules With Impunity" Brownlee rejected KRA's other plan to operate domestic flights from Whenuapai airbase, north of Auckland, to Wellington (capitalising on North Shore residents who drive up to an hour to reach Auckland Airport). While Wilson will lobby the govt to change its position on Whenuapai, KRA's strategy did not rely on it.
The Civil Aviation Authority must authorise an air operating certificate before KRA can launch, and has yet to do so...

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