29 September 2020

ATR service for the Chathams


In its latest newsletter to its customers Air Chathams have announced its intention to transition to the ATR 72 for the Chatham Island's service...

The pandemic has changed the size of our business and as such we have been required to relook at what we do and how we do it. Through that process we have decided to expedite the transition of the ATR-72 onto the Chatham Islands service. We are excited to announce that this is only a few weeks away from happening. Our beautiful Convairs will remain in operation through until 2021 when we will start to phase them out completely. It will be a sad day when we witness our last Convair service. They have been the backbone of our airline for a quarter century!

The ATR, which will be based on the Chathams and will operate scheduled flights to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The introduction of the ATR will mean an improved customer experience for passengers and increases our capacity with up to 68 seats available. There will be a flight crew of four, with a mix of familiar faces as well as the introduction of new flight crew. For those of you based on the Chatham Islands, you'll see the ATR begin to start flying during October. Like all change it may come with a few hiccups so we do appreciate your patience and understanding as we roll this out.

Norfolk Island Flights Update

September 2020 marks Air Chatham’s first anniversary to Norfolk Island. Unfortunately, with Covid-19 border restrictions in place, Air Chathams are suspending all scheduled flights until April 2021. The airline will review this decision each month to determine if they can reinstate flights sooner than April 2021 but bookings will not be available online until that date. Air Chathams have said customers who have purchased fully refundable tickets will continue to get a full refund. Customers who have purchased a non-refundable airfare will continue to receive an EMD (credit voucher) valid for travel until the 31st of December 2021. 

Air Chathams Announces Frequent Flyer Programme


Introducing Green Miles, Air Chathams' frequent flyer programme. In their latest mailout the airline has announced that all flights and ticket classes are eligible to earn Green Miles, including their cheapest 'Thrifty’ fares. The higher the value of the fare purchased the more miles can be earned. Customers can create their own personal account for free via the Air Chathams' website. Once signed up, a customer logs into their customer profile online allowing them to view their current number of miles accumulated, and book directly on to flights paying with cash or miles. The number of miles for redemption is based on the distance in nautical miles between airports. For example, if a customer accumulates 120 miles then they can fly for free from Auckland to Whakatane Airport. Air Chathams have also added a feature where customers can retrospectively claim for miles on previous Air Chathams flights (must be within 30 days after flight completed)

Second 206 on the Way


After the post on Float Air earlier in the month we get a glimpse of floatplane activity at the southern end of the South Island...

The only commercial floatplane in the South Island will finally have a "mate" down under. Wings & Water’s new floatplane will be arriving today in Te Anau after a journey of about a year. Owner Kylie Krippner said it was the first time in 30 years Fiordland would have two floatplanes based in Te Anau. "It is very special. We’ve been operating the last one left in the entire South Island, so floatplanes became very rare. And people are forgetting about them. "Helicopters became stronger and stronger and floatplanes winded out to just one — so we decided to get another one last year as things were going really well before Covid-19 and our original floatplane is getting a little bit long in the tooth." She said the "new" floatplane was the "equivalent of the Holden station wagon of the skies"— a sought-after G model 1979 Cessna 206. But it was not an easy task to bring the new model to its new home. Mrs Krippner and her husband, Ivan, went to Australia last year to check out the plane. On March 26, two days before New Zealand closed its borders, they purchased it. "We had found a pilot which would fly it from Sydney to Auckland but Covid-19 came and he was not prepared to be isolated for two weeks in the hotel, so the deal was off on the last minute." So, they had to pull it apart, put it in a container and ship it to Te Anau where the aircraft would be assembled for operation. She believed it would be six to eight weeks before the plane was ready for use. "Floatplanes and flying boats have been a part of the history of Fiordland since the building of the West Arm power station in the late 1960s and have been operating from Te Anau ever since. "As it departs from the lake, in front of the town, it is definitely a huge attraction." She said while they were working through operating issues with the Department of Conservation, only one of the planes would be operating at this stage. However, she hoped to be able to use both soon, offering tourists, trampers, hunters and fisherman flights to remote places in Fiordland, unreachable by helicopter. "With the Covid-19 uncertainty, we have to look at how to operate in the next 18 months. That means maybe diversify and do more charter. "So one of the planes could take tourists to scenic flights while the other could fly for more remote places or vice- versa." Mrs Krippner said they were excited about the new chapter of their business. "I’ve had a bottle of Champagne aside since December last year, when we looked at the plane and decided to buy it. "I never though would take almost a year to be able to drink that. I don’t know whether I’m going to drink it or smash it over the nose of the aircraft ... but it is really exciting to have it finally here."

Source :https://www.odt.co.nz/regions/southland/only-commercial-floatplane-south-getting-partner

28 September 2020


Like our national airline our smaller regional airlines continue to rebuild after misfortunes that 2020 have bought them. This is an update on the big four...


While Great Barrier Island services have bounced back nicely Barrier Air's Kaitaia service is taking time to recover. The airline has announced that the Kaitaia service is now back to operating 7 days per week and twice daily on Fridays and Sundays! 

Sounds Air have announced the reintroduction of early morning flights from from Taupo and Westport to Wellington in the first week of October. There are only twice daily services from both centres to the capital at this stage.

Air Chathams are continuing to operate a reduced schedule through to the end of October. Twice daily weekday flights are being operated between from both Whanganui and Whakatane to Auckland with a daily flights during the weekend. On Thursday Whanganui gets a third flight. Paraparaumu gets a daily weekday service at present with an additional service on Fridays and northbound services on Saturdays and Sundays and two southbound services on Sundays.

As noted earlier this month Originair is looking to expand services to Hamilton and add additional aircraft to their fleet.  

Sounds Air's Emission Free Plans


There was a interesting interview on Sounds Air's interest in the Heart Aerospace ES-19 electric aircraft on the radio this morning... The link is below... then click "play"


25 September 2020

An Electric Airliner for NZ???


Under development in Sweden at present is the 19-seat Heart Aerospace ES-19 (pictured above) which features four propellers powered by electric motors. The preliminary design for the aluminum-fuselage, fixed-wing model shows winglets and a T-shaped tail. The all-electric aircraft will be able to fly up to around 400 km (217 nm) and operate from runways as short as 750 meters (2,461 feet). It is expected to have a top speed of 215 knots and a cruise speed of 180 knots. The company maintains that these low speeds will not be a disadvantage on short sectors, especially because the aircraft will be able to operate from smaller, less crowded airfields that will shorten door-to-door journey times.

According to an article on the AIN online website Sounds Air has signed a letters of intent to purchase...

For more read... https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/air-transport/2020-09-23/heart-unveils-electric-propulsion-system-es-19-airliner

Comments are moderated


Those who make comments of this blog may have noticed that there is delay in your comments going live. Unfortunately I have someone who has an issue about a particular operator at the moment and I am moderating what comments get posted.

To the person who is making the comments, take your issue up with the operator itself. This blog is not the place for sorting out your issues.

23 September 2020

The Death of Air New Zealand's last inter-Regional Route


I am somewhat surprised that the Hamilton and Palmerston North newspapers have failed to report on the cessation of the Air New Zealand service between the two centres... not that Air New Zealand has made much attempt to announce their withdrawal from the route.

The Hamilton-Palmerston North route was the last inter-regional route operated by the national carrier. All other domestic sectors operate either between the main centres or from regional centres to or from a main centre.

The Hamilton-Palmerston North service was introduced on the 27th of September 1948 and this was operated by Lockheed Electra aircraft. The first flight was flown in Electra ZK-AFD under the command of Commander R T Mounsey and Junior Commander  K B Fitton. Initially the southbound flight operated from Hamilton to Wellington direct and stopped at Palmerston North of the northbound flight. On the 22nd of October 1948, the National Airways Corporation's Lockheed Electra, ZK-AGK, Kaka, flown by Commander G. M. Hare, was on a flight from Palmerston North to Hamilton when it crashed on the western slope, of Mount Ruapehu. The crew of two and the 11 passengers were killed. 

On the 13th of June 1949 the Electras were replaced by the larger 15 seater Lockheed Lodestars. By 1952 the Lodestars had gone from the fleet and the Douglas DC-3s replaced them on flights between Hamilton and Palmerston North.

In 1966 40-seat Fokker Friendships replaced the DC-3s. The southbound service departed Hamilton at 8.05am for the 1 hour flight to Palmerston North. The flight then carried on to Christchurch. The afternoon service, having arrived from Christchurch, departed Palmerston North at 3.35pm.

As NAC acquired more Boeing 737s the Vickers Viscounts were released to the regional routes and from the 5th of March 1973 the Viscounts took over the Hamilton-Palmerston North-Christchurch route. By this time the Viscounts' days were numbered and from the 21st of July to the 30th of September 1974 there was an unusual addition to the aircraft that operated the Hamilton-Palmerston North route. This was in the form of a Mount Cook Airlines Hawker Siddeley 748 which was chartered to operate the Christchurch-Wellington-Palmerston North-Hamilton services. 

From the 1st of October 1974 NAC's Fokker Friendships took over the daily flight between the two centres and the Friendships continued to operate the NAC service until the 31st of March 1978 and then beyond with Air New Zealand  from the 1st of April 1978.

In August 1980 Air New Zealand announced its intention to trim some of its international and domestic schedules and abandon some routes altogether because of worsening economics. Included in these was the daily Auckland-Hamilton-Palmerston North-Wellington service. Figures given to the Air Services Licencing Authority showed that the Hamilton-Palmerston North service had an average of eight passengers a trip and lost $636,000 a year, and that an average of only 3.2 passengers boarded each Auckland-Hamilton flight for a loss of $625,000 a year. The Hamilton-Palmerston North sector reported revenue of $117,000 compared with costs of $812,700.

On the 16th of June 1980 Eagle Air, which had been operating its own air service between Hamilton and Palmerston North with a Beech Baron and Piper Chieftain, took Air New Zealand Fokker Friendship service between the two provincial services using an 18-seat Embraer Bandeirante. The new service, which also included Auckland and Wanganui, operated three flights a day. This was the beginning of the transformation of this route and turning it into a very profitable inter-regional route. Until the Eagle Air take over NAC and Air New Zealand had only operated a daily service with no thought to being suitable for business traffic. With Eagle Air's flights timed to suit business traffic the numbers using the service grew. 

On the 31st of October 1988 Air New Zealand took over ownership of Eagle Air. For some time the airline continued to operate in Eagle Air colours but from the 21st of May 1991 the Eagle fleet, along with Air Nelson’s fleet were rebranded as Air New Zealand Link.

With the take over by Air New Zealand Eagle Air the fleet was expanded to include 18-seat Fairchild Metroliners which were used between Hamilton and Palmerston North to replace the  Later the Bandeirantes and Metroliners were replaced Beech 1900s that Eagle Air operated for Air New Zealand.

On the 26th of August 2016 Air New Zealand closed Eagle Air The final Eagle Air services were flown under the command of Captains Peter Reid and Chris Mortimer flying NZ2105 from Hamilton to Palmerston North, NZ2421 from Palmerston North to Wellington, NZ2426 from Wellington to Palmerston North and the final Eagle Air operated service, NZ2106 from Palmerston North to Hamilton.

On the 29th of August 2016 Air Nelson took over the Air New Zealand air service between Hamilton-and Palmerston North. Like Eagle Air before it the Bombardier Q300 left Hamilton early in the morning, had a brief stop in Palmerston North and then continued northbound. A northbound service operated from Wellington through Palmerston North to Hamilton after which the Q300 operated a direct flight to Wellington. The reverse pattern was operated in the afternoon/evening. The Q300 service proved incredibly popular with good loadings considering it upgraded from a twice daily 18-seat Beech 1900 service to a twice daily 50-seat Bombardier Q300 service. 

The Air New Zealand flights between Hamilton and Palmerston North operated until the 24th of March 2020 when the country was placed in lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In recent days Air New Zealand has quietly stated their service will not resume.

Meanwhile Originair is positioning itself to commence a Palmerston North-Hamilton service. Sadly their schedule has no appeal for the business traffic which makes up the bulk of the traffic. It will be interesting to see if Originair looks to urgently improve their schedule. Otherwise the route remains ripe for the picking.

22 September 2020

Ardmore Twins

Thanks to Alex for these photos he sent through recently... One wonders if we will ever see a Navajo or Chieftain operating an air service in New Zealand again???

Ex air2there Piper Navajo ZK-WHW at Ardmore on 16 September 2020


Ex Air Nelson Piper Chieftain ZK-NSP at Ardmore on 16 September 2020

Coral Sun Airways Beech Super King Air P2-ALC at Ardmore on 16 September 2020

20 September 2020

Interesting Invercargill News


Business has been up and down at Invercargill Airport but the organisation is bouncing back with traveller numbers increasing steadily. It’s pleasing for the airport’s general manager Nigel Finnerty and commercial and business development manager Julie Jack because they saw the monthly number of people visiting the facility going from 25,000 to 30,000 before lockdown to only 26 in April after the Covid-19 pandemic struck. The number of people through the airport in July was 21,000, compared to 27,000 in July 2019. Travellers are building in numbers and it should continue with Kiwis taking advantage of Air New Zealand’s heavily discounted fares, the upcoming school holidays and planes now back to transporting passengers to full capacity with physical distancing no longer limiting numbers. When Air NZ announced its discounted fares early last week a total of 1400 were snapped up in the first two days on the Invercargill to Auckland and return jet service, its head of tourism and regional affairs Reuben Levermore said. The jet service resumed after lockdown in July but was suspended for four days in August due to alert levels. “Although we had a little setback with recent alert levels and the fact we were unable to sell all the seats on board due to the physical distancing requirements, we see just how much enthusiasm there is for the service ... it’s really encouraging,” Levermore said. Nigel Finnerty and Julie Jack saw signs of passenger numbers growing two weeks after Air NZ had domestic planes back in the air on May 14 when the country went to alert level 2. Business has been up and down but we’ve seen really strong bounce back each time and we can see the demand [going] north and [coming] south is really high,” Finnerty said. Jack added: “The bounce back has way exceeded what we predicted.” 

Also helping has been Stewart Island Flights’ move to changed its timetable to connect with the Auckland-Invercargill jet service. Within an hour of arriving in Invercargill passengers are on a plane to the Island. With the jet’s flight schedule changing in July from 6am departures out of Invercargill and arrivals at 9.30pm to lunchtime arrivals and departures, Finnerty and Jack have seen more tourists on the jet.

Quite a few skiers have been arriving on the jet before travelling by road to Queenstown. Finnerty thought that could be because of physical distancing restricting numbers on planes to Queenstown. One of his long term goals is to have two Invercargill to Auckland and return services operating on the same day.

Source : https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/122789957/increasing-traveller-numbers-passing-through-invercargill-airport

A Sunday Diversion...

Check this out which Fraser sent to me...

Hey Steve, when you get a chance go to google maps, search Tauranga airport, click on satellite, zoom in front of the front of the terminal and get the street-view man and drag it on a little blue bubble that should become visible.. See if you can spot something a little historic parked on the stand in front of the control tower.

It's interesting that the ground level view what of is on the ramp differs from the aerial view... and that is interesting in itself 

19 September 2020

Hamilton-Palmerston North-Wellington Service Officially Cut


Air New Zealand resumed services to all 20 of our ports on our domestic network in June, however we have not resumed services on our Hamilton-Palmerston North-Wellington route due to insufficient demand for our 50-seater Q300 aircraft. 

We have now made the decision not to resume services on this route. Due to the constantly changing environment, the airline is currently making domestic schedule adjustments each month to better align with demand. There are a small number of customers who had booked tickets on this route from mid-February and they will be accommodated via other routes or can hold tickets as a credit. 

Source : Air New Zealand Wing Tips, Issue 5004

The news above will be a major disappointment for the many people who use, in particular, the Hamilton-Palmerston North service which always has many business passengers, often doing a same day return. Originair have announced they are starting a daily return service but the timetable is woefully inadequate for business passengers. The Hamilton-Palmerston North sector, at peak business time, certainly needs something larger than a Jetstream.

The Palmerston North to Wellington sector is probably more problematic as, like the Auckland-Hamilton sector, the centres are too close together. Sounds Air tried Whanganui-Wellington and that didn't work. I suspect most of the passengers on this sector were transhipping at Wellington to other Air New Zealand services which they will still be able to do at Christchurch. However it does mean the loss of an Air NZ connection to Blenheim and Nelson. In Nelson's case Originair already operate, albeit with an inadequate timetable. Perhaps there might be enough passengers for a Blenheim-Palmerston North service for Sounds Air to try similar to their Blenheim-Paraparaumu service. Time will tell.

In the meantime I need an afternoon flight from Palmerston North to Hamilton on the 30th of October. Looks like I will either have to get a flight to Auckland and get a shuttle to Hamilton or get a shuttle to Wellington to be able to fly home.

The only way from Hamilton to Palmerston North on Monday... via Christchurch!

18 September 2020

Welcome to NZ's latest Cessna Grand Caravan EX


Arriving into Auckland in the early hours of this morning was Glenorchy Air's new Cessna 208 Grand Caravan EX N789UT which will be registered ZK-MMZ. The Caravan flew out across the Pacific via Honolulu and Pago Pago... a long hikoi to her new homeland!

Cessna Grand Caravan EX N879UT at Auckland on 18 September 2020... Photo supplied

17 September 2020

Waiting at Wellington...

I had a little time at Wellington waiting for my flight to Hamilton... Read the captions carefully for some interesting news...

Air Chathams' Fairchild Metroliner III ZK-CID on departure... apparently ZK-CIC and ZK-POF have been repainted in the same colout scheme

The newly repainted Life Flight BAe Jetstream 32 ZK-LFW backtracking

Arriving into Wellington, Sounds Air's Pilatus PC12 ZK-PLB