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Regional airline facing rough landing if it can't qualify for aviation support package

A regional airline may be headed for receivership if it's not able to qualify for a slice of the Government's $600 million aviation support package.

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Without financial help SoundsAir is heading for receivership. Source: 1 NEWS

Sounds Air has been flying loyal customers to cities in the North and South Islands for more than 30 years.

In the last year, it's moved around 120,000 people around the country.

"From Taupo in the North to Christchurch in the South, and out to Westport and hubs around Blenheim and Wellington," managing director Andrew Crawford says.

"I think we flew 500 people [on the last day before lockdown], it was a wee bit like the Dunkirk evacuation getting people out."

The cost of being grounded is skyrocketing, costing more than a quarter of a million dollars each month.

Without financial help, the airline faces a grim prospect - receivership.

Kaikōura MP Stuart Smith is petitioning the Transport Minister to step in and support Sounds Air and other regional players.

"We must have competition in the aviation sector," he says.

"If this airline were allowed to fail, it's not a simple matter of someone else picking up and starting again."

More than 20,000 people have signed the petition so far.

The Government has set aside $600 million to support the aviation sector but freight services are the priority, which a company like Sounds Air doesn't normally provide.

To date, up to $4.9 million has been allocated to airlines under the Urgent Air Freight Package. This includes Air New Zealand, Air Chathams, Barrier Air, Fly My Sky, Island Air Charters, Air Napier, Qantas and Stewart Island Flights.

Further support proposals are currently being assessed.

In a statement, Transport Minister Phil Twyford told 1 NEWS they want to help Sounds Air and are working on a potential support package.

After recent talks with officials, the airline is now hopeful it's heading in the right direction.

"It's going to be a domestic economy for a long time before tourists come back," Mr Crawford says.

"We really need to have that connectivity to the smaller regions, feeding the bigger cities, feeding Air New Zealand and getting us back up and running again fast."