"If we can keep Covid-19 at bay at level two or better, we're on track to have our best summer ever."
top Must Dos
Journey through WWI & WWII
Sounds Air was established in 1987 by Cliff and Diane Marchant.
In December 2003, when I became a one third stakeholder in the business, Sounds Air had one plane and flew 8000 people between Wellington and Picton.
Pre-Covid, we had 10 aircraft flying 115,000 people to eight destinations from Taupo to Christchurch, and on November 2 we will commence flights between Christchurch and Wanaka.
Despite the disruption and uncertainty caused by the pandemic, we still see significant potential to expand our services and we still aim to provide a New Zealand wide regional air service.
We were all caught off-guard by the pandemic and the speed at which it has changed all our lives.
When our planes were grounded as New Zealand entered the lockdown at alert level four, we had absolutely no idea what the future would hold for us, and that was pretty scary.
We quickly decided to make a commitment to our 80 staff around the country that we would keep going for as long as we could.
The Government wage subsidy helped, and we reduced wages across the board, including all management and directors.
We worked hard on managing our cash flow and engaging with Government to see what assistance was available.
Many of our creditors came to the party by accepting delayed payments which was a huge vote of confidence in our business and the service we provide.
In addition, we had great support from our local MP Stuart Smith, who started a petition to the Ministry of Transport and the Transport Minister Phil Twyford, to provide financial support to maintain the essential inter-regional transport links that Sounds Air provides.
The petition was signed by more than 43,000 people and we were the first business to get support under the Essential Aviation Transport Connectivity package, which aims to keep essential transport networks alive.
At level three we were able to start operating again, providing transport for essential workers.
Due to physical distancing requirements at level two and three, passenger numbers were capped, but the Government’s package helped the business to cover its costs under the restrictions.
When we got down to level one there was a slow ramping up, and pretty soon we were doing better than expected, operating at about 60% of last year’s capacity.
Returning to level two was like falling off a cliff again. We had 65 flights overbooked, meaning we had to book a whole lot more flights. We didn’t have to, but our ethos has always been to look after our customers, because we have a hugely loyal customer base.
Support from our customers through Covid has been fantastic. A lot of people still want to travel and we are trying to repay that support with regular services morning and night to most of our destinations.
If we can keep Covid-19 at bay at level two or better, we’re on track to have our best summer ever. There are a lot of New Zealander’s wanting to travel and we are endeavouring to do our best to provide that service.