Long recognised for its service to the Chatham Islands communities and the regional destinations they fly to, Air Chathams also plays a significant part in supporting regional charities and sponsorship requests.
In the last six months of 2019, Air Chathams donated over $100,000 in discounted flights, free flights, cash support and luggage cost waivers. It’s the biggest part of Air Chathams annual marketing budget and likely to remain so.
Amongst those benefitting from support were Totara Hospice in Auckland, the Auckland Dementia Association, Child Cancer, the Breast Cancer Foundation, the Cancer Society, Whanganui Riding for the Disabled, Life Education Trust and the Whanganui Womens’ Refuge as well as various primary school and early childhood centres.
“We mean it when we say we’re here for these communities”, says Duane Emeny, general manager. “And we’re proud to be associated and assisting with charities throughout our destinations, from the Chatham Islands to Whakatane, Whanganui, the Kapiti Coast and Norfolk Island.”
With the airline expanding into five different communities including Norfolk Island in September last year, the sponsorship policy has undergone a review to focus on supporting health related charities and children’s causes and wellbeing. Air Chathams also supports the regional Chamber of Commerce Awards in each port and some sports teams and competitions from early sponsorship arrangements
“We’re engaged active members of those chambers and we’ve always seen our support as a way to indirectly support business and business growth in the smaller regions that we service.” Understandably, the Chatham Islands received the largest share with support for tourism and community events.
“Tourism is a real growth area for the Chatham and in the last 20 years the Island has become a lot more accessible.Really that has come down to the services provided by Air Chathams. In the last two years our involvement has increased because we want to see real growth in passenger numbers and believe there’s potential to achieve that through tourism.”
Duane says there is now a lot more investment going into Island based tourism operators and accommodation providers and as the Chathams enters the world of social media and online engagement there will be greater awareness of what can be done on the Island.
“We still get cheaper tour packages that larger tour companies put together but through awareness of Air Chathams as an airline, accessibility to our flights through our website and the ability to book accommodation there will be an increased flow of free and independent travellers.
“We’re a member of the newly created Tourism Chatham Islands Incorporated Society and our key message is to develop tourism sustainably without affecting the current way of life.”
Coming up in February 2020 is one of the legacy partnerships – Air Chathams Sunshine and A Plate, a fundraising event and festival for the Eastern Bay of Plenty Hospice that has been operating for the last four years.
Hospices have to raise 50% of their total annual spend through fund raising with the rest sourced from Government.New to the region, Air Chathams felt supporting the festival was something it could get behind and became the naming sponsor.
“It’s been very successful for the region, providing a significant amount of funding to Hospice Bay of Plenty and is their largest fund raising event.
It usually kicks off with a market day with a lot of boutique food stalls and food trucks. Local craft breweries are invited and there’s music and entertainment – a really good day out.
“Throughout the week they have events, one of which is us flying our Douglas DC3 doing sight seeing tours with food and champagne service.”