18 October 2017

Sounds Air Looking at 3 Beech 1900s

The national carrier phased them out, but larger twin-engine planes could be returning to the skies between Blenheim and Christchurch early next year. Sounds Air is looking at purchasing up to three 19-seater Beechcraft 1900Ds, something which has been described as a quantum leap for the Marlborough airline. Chief executive Andrew Crawford said the board met last Friday and authorised further research into the viability of larger planes on the route it first started flying last August. The idea was mooted in the middle of this year, with Crawford telling a public meeting on air services in Marlborough that the airline was doing everything it could to make the service useful. The Blenheim-Christchurch sector, which had seen a spike in demand since the November 14, 2016 earthquake knocked out State Highway 1, was currently serviced by nine-seater Pilatus PC-12s. Crawford said a decision would be made on the larger planes in December - if the board signed off on the addition to the fleet, the Beechcrafts would be in the sky early next year. "We need to get onto it as soon as possible, so we're actively pursuing a decision. We'd be moving into twin-engines, and two pilots so it would be a huge step for us," he said. Air New Zealand used to fly the Blenheim-Christchurch sector using the 19-seater Beechcrafts, but these were phased out and replaced with 50-seater Bombardier Q300s early last year. The national carrier, citing a lack of demand, dropped the route entirely last July, leaving the door open for Sounds Air to pick up the slack. Crawford said the decision to investigate larger planes on the route was made due to the level of demand and need for more capacity. The airline currently offered around 22 return flights a week between the two centres, priced at a flat rate of $199 one-way or $398 return. While he was unsure what impact introducing larger planes would have on pricing, Crawford said the Beechcrafts would give passengers more choice. SH1 between Blenheim and Christchurch was expected to re-open before Christmas, however Crawford said there would still be demand on the route. "There's a lot of people that still wouldn't drive that road, you can't go to Christchurch and back for a meeting even if the road is open and perfect," he said. The decision to investigate larger planes was also made with an eye to growth. This year the airline expected to carry around 120,000 passengers, a huge increase on the 90,000 Crawford said they carried last year.

17 October 2017

Airvan ZK-FSS heads south

Gippsland GA8 Airvan ZK-FSS underwent an ownership change on 01 September 2017 according to CAA records with a move to Queenstown based Glenorchy Air Services & Tourist Company Ltd. 

The light utility aircraft started out in the South Island with Air Safaris as ZK-SAF from November 2002 until becoming ZK-FSS in December 2016 when it moved north to operate with Flystark operating from both Ardmore and Whitianga to numerous locations on partial scheduled and air taxi type services. 

As at the end of September, ZK-FSS was spied at Ardmore still in full Flystark colours. 

ZK-FSS Ardmore 21 September 2017. 

Flystark continue to operate Airvan ZK-FSR and Cessna 172 ZK-CWD. 

ZK-FSR Ardmore 29 September 2017. 

13 October 2017

Gliding at Masada

Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub 4X-AJD and Piper PA-25-260 Pawnee 4X-AFN were the tugs for gliding from Bar-Yehuda at the southern end of the Dead Sea on 12 October 2017






09 October 2017

A couple of ground to airs...

Fly Synthesis Texan TC 4X-HXO over Biet She'an on 7 October 2017

AĆ©rospatiale AS 350B3 Ecureuil over Jerusalem on 8 October 2017

08 October 2017

Bay Air Aviation

Bay Air Aviation was formed at the beginning of 1993 at Rotorua with David Ross as Operations Manager. The operation had a flightseeing division known as Scenic Air Tours with a desk in the Rotorua Airport terminal. Aircraft were hired according to requirement. 

From early 1993 Bay Air Aviation established a regular evening freight and courier flight from Rotorua to Auckland on weekdays. The flight left Rotorua about 6.45pm with the callsign BAY 1 to arrive at Auckland about 7.50pm. The return flight, BAY 2, left Auckland at about 8.45pm to arrive back at Rotorua at 9.50pm.  These flights carried freight on contract to Ansett New Zealand Air Freight and operated from the Ansett Air Freight building at Rotorua Airport. Cessna R172K Hawk XP II ZK-FGF was hired from the Rotorua Aero Club to operate this service, The aircraft was subsequently registered to Bay Air Aviation on the 23rd of  December 1993. Piper PA28-181 Archer ZK-ESK was also used

Cessna R172K Hawk ZK-FGF at Rotorua on 17 January 1996
Piper PA28-181 Archer ZK-ESK at Greymouth on 19 August 1994

In 1996 Leslie Aviation also took over Bay Air and it became part of the Air Rotorua operation.

07 October 2017

The world-wide curse of covers

Bell Longranger 4X-BEO at Magdala on 5 October 2017

06 October 2017

Media Coverage of the last week's Originair launch to New Plymouth

New Plymouth residents thinking of a short weekend getaway to one of the South Island's major tourist regions can now do so in the same time it takes to drive to Hawera. A new 50 minute direct air link between New Plymouth and Nelson is expected to bring more business and tourism opportunities for both regions, New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom said. Holdom was at New Plymouth airport on Friday to welcome passengers off the Originair midday flight. The Nelson-based airline has scheduled four flights a week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday between the two cities using an 18-seater BA Jetstream 31. One way ticket prices rage from the $199 Saver to $279 Flexi Plus, with $99 specials also available. "It's a fantastic addition to the airline services in and out of the region," Holdom said. "We now have three airlines scheduling flights from New Plymouth, and Originair is the only direct service between Nelson and New Plymouth. We are hopeful it will open up more business connections and tourism opportunities with Nelson." Holdom, a keen mountain biker, said he was looking forward packing his cycle and heading off for a weekend trip to experience the trails around Nelson. He hoped Nelson mountain bikers would take the same opportunity to visit the trail network in Taranaki. "It's a special market and it is going to develop further with the help of direct transport links as Originair have provided." Holdom said the arrival of Originair in New Plymouth had been commercial decision by airport shareholder, New Plymouth District Council, to promote regional economic growth. Currently there are 435,000 passenger movements annually through the airport. "We have transport links by land, sea and air so the more people coming in and out of the region, the better it is for business," he said. Originair chief executive Robert Inglis said the new service was performing to expectations after one week. "It will take two to three months to get consistent support but at the moment it is performing well," he said. "We hope it will serve the weekend market who don't want to spend a long time getting to their destination. "If they know they can get to Nelson, or New Plymouth, in under an hour they know they can have more time to explore the region." Originair charter and group bookings manager Gary Jeffcott​ said the company wanted the service to be long-term. "After a week of operating from New Plymouth it is looking promising and we will review flights as we get nearer to summer," he said. Jeffcott said the Nelson - New Plymouth link was a logical "next step" to develop after the company's air service between Nelson and Palmerston North. Forward reservations on the route are already higher than for when Originair launched the successful Nelson - Palmerston North service in 2015, he said. "We are looking to expand our services and New Plymouth was a good step for us to develop. "There are good tourism opportunities between the regions, and the West Coast is also an option to visit. With Taranaki still riding the wave of being named as one of Lonely Planet's top two regions in the world to visit, we need to look closely at how we can make the most of this market." Paul McLean, of Hawera, was visiting an ill friend in his home town, Nelson. He was among 11 passengers departing New Plymouth on Friday. "I was weighing up the cost options of driving to Wellington and getting the ferry across, or flying," he said. "I booked a one way ticket for $179 last week and it suited my plans." McLean said he would use the service again. "It looks a cheaper option all round if you book early." Mike Te Whata arrived in New Plymouth from Nelson with his family after attending a national gymnastics competition. They were among seven passengers arriving in New Plymouth. "I'm from Nelson originally and have been living in New Plymouth for the past three years,"" he said. "I flew down on another airline through Auckland earlier in the week and it took three hours. "This is a wonderful service and I will be using it again." Adventure tourism student Heavenly Kieft​ was flying back to Nelson to continue the final semester of her year-long course. "If the flight was not available I would have had to drive down to Wellington and catch the ferry across to Picton, and then take a bus to Nelson."

01 October 2017

Originair Spreads its Wings

Originair commenced flights between Nelson and New Plymouth on Friday 29 September 2017. The airline is operating four flights a week between the two centres. The first flight was operated by BAe Jetstream 31 ZK-JSH under the command of Captain Warwick Wild.

Originair also operates four flights a week between Nelson and Palmerston North

The first flight at New Plymouth on 29 September 2017. Photo Souree : Originair Facebook Page

The New Plymouth schedule

26 September 2017

A Norfolk Opportunity...

Earlier this month Norfolk Island Airlines announced it's intention to withdraw its direct Auckland-Norfolk Island service. The airline's services  between Auckland and Norfolk Island began on the 18th of June 2017 with the hope that route would achieve the same level of support Air New Zealand had. Norfolk Island Airlines noted that after the service started the Australian Commonwealth Government raised its departure tax by 10% and then in August the Norfolk Island Regional Council announced that it would raise its airport movement charges by nearly 100%. Coupled with larger than planned start-up losses the airline said it was no longer a commercially viable option to continue further investment on the route. The service will end on the 14th of January 2018. This will end an air service that has existed since the 1st of April 1947.

On the 1st of April 1947 NAC began Pacific services from Auckland to the Pacific Island via Norfolk Island. this service using Douglas DC-3s. On the 14th of October 1952 NAC withdrew its Pacific services beyond Norfolk Island. The DC-3 service to Norfolk continued until September 1955 when it too was terminated. 

In November 1955 TEAL took over the Norfolk Island-Auckland service which operated fortnightly by a chartered Qantas flight Douglas DC-4. The DC-4 operated the Norfolk service until the the 1st of June 1975. 

For photos of a QANTAS Douglas Dc-4 scheme at Norfolk Island see

On the 4th of June 1975 NAC returned to Norfolk Island operating a Fokker F27-500 series Friendship on the Auckland-Norfolk Island route under charter to Air New Zealand. After NAC's merger with Air New Zealand on the 1st of April 1978 Air New Zealand continued the Friendship service until Boeing 737s replaced the Fokker Friendships on the Auckland-Norfolk Island services on the 23rd of September 1984.

For photos of a NAC Friendship in the 'white and red' and 'red and orange' NAC schemes at Norfolk Island see

In 2008 Air New Zealand commenced Airbus 320 flights to Norfolk Island supplementing the Air New Zealand Boeing 737 flights. In March 2009, the Airbus 320 aircraft replaced the Boeings on all flights between Norfolk Island and Auckland.

In 2012 Air New Zealand won an Australian government tender to operate flights from Brisbane and Sydney to Norfolk Island with two flights per week from Sydney and one per week from Brisbane. These flights began on the 2nd of March 2012 using Airbus 320s. In 2016 Air New Zealand's General Manager Networks Richard Thomson announced that, "The Auckland-Norfolk Island route is not commercially sustainable so it makes sense to focus our operations out of Australia, where there’s good potential" and that the Auckland- Norfolk Island service would end in May 2017. 

For a photo an Air New Zealand Airbus 320 at Norfolk Island see

Norfolk Island Airlines was the successor to this service.

Will there be a successor - maybe with a turbo-prop or will the service disappear after 70 years of operation???