Norfolk Island’s remote location has meant that it has become solely reliant on air services for passenger transport. Since WWII the Island’s Tourism Industry grew around increasing accessibility to air services from New Zealand and Australia. The air strip was built by NZ forces during WWII and Norfolk’s relationship with New Zealand by air has been consistent despite changes in supplier and schedule.
In recent years Norfolk Island has needed a new airline for services to and from New Zealand; one that understands the challenges of flying to, and indeed unique needs of a remote island and its people, as well as travelling tourism passengers. This is where Air Chathams is a perfect fit.
From Air Chathams website: Air Chathams has quite a remarkable story, born from overcoming the hardships of a remote island life and ensuring the continuity of business and family connections of the people and communities of the Chatham Islands.
Owned by Craig and Marion Emeny, Air Chathams was established in 1984 and worked with the local Chatham Island people to create a safe and reliable airline that would support the transportation of both people and freight to and from New Zealand. At that time there was no regular service between the Chatham Islands and New Zealand and this prompted Craig to begin operations to mainland New Zealand airports. The freight market developed steadily and was the main function for the airline but it also offered an extra option for locals to visit friends and family in New Zealand.
Air Chathams has grown from operating small piston engine aircraft to large 50 seat, two engine turbo-prop aircraft. In mid-2018 the first Convair 580 chartered flight flew to Norfolk Island and represented the first international passenger flight for Air Chathams. Flights to Norfolk Island continued as charters, and in September 2019 regular scheduled passenger flights direct to and from Auckland commenced.
Wherever Air Chathams has operated it has established itself as an airline for the community.
“Air Chathams has been built on strong community based ties, and caring more about people than profits. That philosophy has carried us through the past 30 years and will ensure we continue to succeed.”
It is increasingly rare to find a family based commercial airline, let alone one with a unique and distinct knowledge and understanding of remote island life. Air Chathams flight services to Norfolk are exciting for the Island, for them as an airline, for the people of Norfolk and continuing their relationship with New Zealand and of course, for visitors to Norfolk Island.
Image Credit: Robin Nisbet