Scenic flights a chance for company to diversify

Air Milford director and chief executive Hank Sproull (left) with chief pilot Antony Sproull on arrival at Te Anau/Manapouri Airport during one of its newly introduced scenic flights from Invercargill.

MORE than 73 passengers took advantage of new scenic flights from Invercargill to southwest Fiordland last Saturday.

It was the latest offering from Air Milford, a Queenstown flightseeing company.

Two of its Cessna Caravans, ZK-SKA and ZK-SKY, were flown by chief pilot Anthony Sproull and Air Milford director and chief executive officer Hank Sproull with the two-and-a-half hour flights leaving Invercargill at 10am, noon and 3pm including a stopover at Te Anau/Manapouri Airport for about an hour.

During the stop, passengers were provided with pies, cheese and date scones, sausage rolls and cups of tea and coffee at the terminal, with the last flight’s passengers treated to an aerobatic display by Te Anau pilot Adam Butcher.

Hank formed the company in December 2000, and continues to fly part-time. Antony earned his commercial pilot’s license in 2012.

The flights were part of the company’s diversification to increase cashflow which had also seen it offering repatriation flights to get foreign internationals home, special flights and “so many other stories that have seen us survive”, Anthony said.

Hank said the scenic Fiordland flights had generated the most amount of flying in any one day since lockdown began in March 2020.

“It is still too early to determine the future of this new product in this new Covid world. What is for sure is we’ll be back, most likely repeating this trip in late January 2022, and offer a slightly different product around Stewart Island in March/April,” Antony said.

The company donated every 12th seat sold to the Southland Charity Hospital – amounting to a $2495 donation for the hospital.