This blog started off by focussing on NZ's smaller 3rd level airlines, past and present. It has evolved to trying to present some record of NZ's domestic airline operations and some of the larger charter operators, interesting NZ international airliner movements and photos I have taken around the country. Comments, corrections or contributions are welcome, Steve - firstname.lastname@example.org
Eagle Air operated its final South Island services today.
Beech 1900D ZK-EAC operated the final services between Christchurch and Hokitika before positioning back to Hamilton from Hokitika as Eagle 924.
From tomorrow Air Nelson will operate two Q300 flights between Hokitika and Christchurch each day with flights departing Christchurch at 8.40am and 4,00pm Monday to Friday, 9.05am and 1.30pm on Saturdays and 1.00pm and 4.00pm on Sundays. The return services leave Hokitika at 9.45am and 5.05pm Monday to Friday, 10.10am and 2.45pm on Saturdays and 2.15pm and 5.05pm on Sundays. From 31 October the Hokitika will get earlier departures in the morning with weekday flights to Hokitika departing Christchurch at 8.10am and 5.55pm and return flights leaving at 9.20am and 7.05pm which will be a big improvement on tomorrow's schedule.
Beech 1900D ZK-EAH operated the final services between Blenheim and Christchurch before positioning back to Hamilton from Blenheim as Eagle 926.
From tomorrow Air Nelson will operate two Q300 flights between Blenheim and Christchurch each weekday one flight on Saturdays and Sundays with flights departing Christchurch at 6.10am Monday to Saturday and 6,05pm Sunday to Friday, Return flights depart Blenheim at 7.25am Monday to Saturday and 7.15pm Sunday to Friday.
Passengers on yesterday’s (27 April) Air Chathams flights between Whakatane and Auckland celebrated with cake. At Christmas the airline wrapped up little Cadbury Favourites boxes and gave them to all the passengers that travelled on Christmas Day. Yesterday it marked its first year of servicing the Eastern Bay in a similar way with miniature cakes, baked by customer services manager Grey Tinley, who is a chef by trade. Airline general manager Duane Emeny said the cakes were a bit of a “novelty” but otherwise the airline took a low key approach to the anniversary and didn’t do anything major. However, he has confirmed that the airline is very happy with its first year of operation, so much so it has recently invested well over $1 million in purchasing two additional aircraft. As of May 16 it will have 18-seater Metroliners dedicated to the Eastern Bay. “We will be using both of the aircraft for the Auckland-Whakatane schedule. “We’ll also be putting a lot more effort into generating the charter market and right now we are doing our study on the [possibility of a] Whakatane-Wellington flight. “This is still something we would like to do if the numbers work out and it makes sense.” Mr Emeny said flight loadings had increased over the past year, with people now clearly embracing Air Chathams as the Eastern Bay’s carrier. He believes a lot of traffic that Air New Zealand managed to pull away from the region when it left, is now returning. The big learning curve at the start was getting the schedule right and Mr Emeny thinks it’s about right now with three return flights daily and one return flight at the weekend. “We started with the Convair and a schedule that didn’t really meet the business requirements. “We had the Convair starting – the earlier flight and the later flight – and the Metroliner flying in the middle of the day. “But we found from the feedback we got that people wanted frequency; they wanted more flights and they wanted a more business oriented-schedule. “And also the friends and relatives, they didn’t want to get up and go on a 6.45am flight. “They would rather have a sleep-in and leave at 11am.” Another success has been the scheduled DC3 flights, due to return in October. “Whakatane can claim to be the only DC3 scheduled operator in the southern hemisphere … which is pretty cool for a small place,” Mr Emeny said. “We’re going to bring it back a bit better so it will depart earlier on Saturday morning and come back later on Sunday out of Whakatane so people that purchase those tickets can spend the whole weekend in Whakatane. “They can go out to White Island, cycle the Motu trails, they can do walks, go to all the nice cafes and hopefully it’s a way of promoting the area as a tourism destination which it is.”
As Air New Zealand cuts four flights linking Rotorua with Wellington, Air Chathams continues to do its “homework” on introducing flights between Whakatane and the capital. Air Chathams general manager Duane Emeny said the company was continuing to investigate the possibility of flying a metroliner between Whakatane and Wellington. “We are looking into it at the moment and making sure were going to have enough support and there is enough demand there for the service. “It takes a bit of time, we have to go back and look at how Air New Zealand operated it when they flew in there and the kind of yields they required for those flights. “There’s a fair bit of homework that needs to be done but we’re doing that at the moment.” In the meantime the company has bought a second Metroliner as a back-up to the existing 18-seater on the Whakatane-Auckland route. The former aero medical plane is undergoing a refit, including a paint strip and repaint in the Air Chathams colours of white and green. Mr Emeny said the new plane would enable the company to do more charter work out of Whakatane and, in medium-longer term, could be used to fly Eastern Bay passengers to the capital.
Source : Whakatane Beacon, 12 April 2016
Meanwhile the "new" Metroliner's registration has been changed from ZK-NSS to ZK-CID
Rotorua Airport will get a 7 per cent increase in capacity from Air New Zealand as a result of schedule changes about to be implemented by the airline. The changes include a 25 per cent increase in capacity on the Auckland-Rotorua route, an increase of up to 20 per cent on the Rotorua-Christchurch route, and improved connectivity between Rotorua and Queenstown, as well as Dunedin and Invercargill. The increased capacity and connectivity will predominantly come from additional flights on the Auckland and Christchurch routes. The changes will also see an improvement in connectivity with Queenstown, with an increase from two to five flights daily from the end of October. Rotorua Airport chief executive Nicole Brewer said the changes were extremely positive for the Rotorua community, economy and tourism sector, and were a reflection of increased patronage and support from local travellers and visitors, and a strong relationship with Air New Zealand. "These changes firmly support our growing tourism industry, our local business community and our goal to achieve greater connectivity with Queenstown, which is a critical tourism route for Rotorua," she said. "The improved capacity and additional flights to and from Christchurch are particularly important, as good connectivity with the South Island is essential for international visitors to Rotorua." Ms Brewer said the new schedule would provide improved choice for travellers, as well as better fare availability. "Furthermore, the changes mean that a 68 seat ATR aircraft will overnight in Rotorua and provide an early morning flight to Christchurch, returning in the evening. This will deliver an improved service for southbound passengers currently travelling via Wellington. "These changes also reinforce Air New Zealand's commitment to Rotorua and, if demand is demonstrated and proven, additional capacity will be provided. At the same time, if demand drops, then it is likely we will see a corresponding change in capacity." But, Air New Zealand's new schedule will see a change in services on the Rotorua-Wellington route, with two fewer flights a week and a change in departure times. Ms Brewer said the route had been under-performing for some time, and the schedule changes were designed to lift performance, and consequently, sustainability of the route. Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said the changes were "great for inbound and international visitors in a growing tourism market". "We are certainly making good progress for our wanted north-south link, but recognise that the changes to Wellington-Rotorua flights, from October, will not meet the needs of all travellers and will be watching the situation closely." The flight changes will be available for booking from next week, for travel from October 30.
In Rotorua, Air New Zealand is cutting one return flight a day to the capital from Thursday to Saturday, from October 30. Airport chief executive Nicole Brewer said the route had been under-performing for some time and schedule changes had been designed to lift performance and the route’s sustainability. “While the Wellington changes will not suit everyone, we will continue to actively work with Air New Zealand on this route to measure the impact and opportunities, and explore other options.” Overall, the route changes for Rotorua Airport are positive and will increase the airport’s passenger capacity by 7 percent. Ms Brewer said there would be a 25 percent capacity increase on the Auckland-Rotorua route, an increase of up to 20 percent on the Rotorua-Christchurch route, and improved connectivity between Rotorua and Queenstown. The increased capacity and connectivity would predominantly come from additional frequency on the Auckland and Christchurch routes. Connections with Queenstown would also increase from two to five a day from the end of October.
New 50-seater flights between Auckland and Taupo has been a big boost for the tourism trade according to Mayor David Trewavas. Air New Zealand switched from 19-seat aircraft earlier this year to the bigger Q300 aircraft and reduced airfares. The service has been 70 per cent full ever since. Mayor David Trewavas said the extra numbers coming from Auckland was good news for the region. ‘‘We’re getting increased tourist traffic which is a big industry for our region. ‘‘It’s possible to do quick day trips without much travel time.’’ Trewavas said the reduction in the fare price was a factor in the increased traveller numbers. ‘‘You can get a flight from $59 if you book ahead or $79 if you do it overnight,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s extremely good for Taupo and the tourist operators are seeing the rewards.’’ The flow-on effects from the increased traffic could also mean an upgrade to Taupo’s terminal as more passengers have pushed facilities to their limit with talk of an upgrade on the cards. In the Taupo Airport Authority General Manager’s report Mike Groome said the additional baggage, passengers and greeters at the terminal have caused them to investigate what can be done to upgrade the terminal. Air New Zealand made major cuts to its regional network in April and closed its Taupo to Wellington service. Trewavas said when Air New Zealand stopped operating the Taupo to Wellington flights, which was then picked up by Sounds Air, they made a commitment to upgrade their other services. Representatives from Air New Zealand were in Taupo last week to take in some of the sights and see first hand what the region had to offer. After taking a spin on the Huka Jet the group headed to the Prawn Park and took in other tourist attractions in the region to assist in their marketing. ‘‘It helps us get a sense of the area and how we can best market it,’’ Head of Government and Industry Affairs Duncan Small said.
Whanganui air travellers should brace themselves for a return of the smaller planes servicing the city link to Auckland. Air New Zealand has confirmed that the 19-seater Beechcraft 1900D aircraft will be back in service from May 8 through to June 12, coming back due to what the airline calls "operational requirements". The 19-seater planes have only recently been replaced by the 50-seater Bombardier Q300s, which started in regular daily service from February 9. The smaller planes had serviced the Whanganui-Auckland route for years, but Air New Zealand is phasing them out. "We're using Beech aircraft on the Whanganui route for a short period in May and June due to operational requirements,"a spokeswoman said. The Chronicle understands the airline needs to use the Bombardiers on routes where it will be servicing with 62-seater Aerospatiale ATR72 planes that were still to arrive. "We appreciate that Whanganui customers have been enjoying travelling on our larger Q300 aircraft and can reassure you they'll be back flying Whanganui-Auckland soon," she said. Whanganui Mayor Annette Main said when she heard of the change of planes she contacted Air New Zealand. "I've been reassured this is a temporary measure based on the need to backfill in areas where they are waiting for 68-seaters to arrive," Ms Main said. She said she knew people were enjoying the 50-seaters from and to Whanganui. But she said while this was a temporary change unrelated to passenger issues, she was mindful that passenger numbers needed to be built up to fill the Q300 aircraft. "That isn't helped by aggressive advertising into Whanganui from Palmerston North airport. But with the better airfare prices we're able to access now, it should be more cost-effective in terms of things like time and car storage costs to fly to Auckland from Whanganui. "That will help us to lower the risk of changes in the future as well," Ms Main said. The airline spokeswoman said reverting to the Beechcraft planes would not create any problems in terms of handling bookings. "We've had adequate time to change the aircraft type in our booking system, and therefore available seats, so customers can be assured that we can accommodate their bookings."
At around 1240 today (Press Release dated 21 April 2016), Real Tonga’s latest addition to its fleet, a SAAB 340 B+ WT, arrived into Fua’amotu airport from Canberra. The aircraft has 34 leather seats and this particular model has extended Wing Tips, which provide additional payload and improved overall performance. Real Tonga have indicated that they hope to see the aircraft start commercial operations in early May 2016. Currently, the airline is undergoing the required certification process to incorporate the aircraft into its current Air Operator Certificate. This certification process is being undertaken by PASO and New Zealand Civil Aviation, on behalf of Tonga’s Civil Aviation Department. The aircraft will initially be deployed solely for domestic operations from Fua’amotu to both Ha’apai and Vava’u, though Real Tonga have also revealed plans that will see the aircraft operating some regional services to Samoa and to Niue. Real Tonga’s Chief Executive, Tevita Palu said that he…”is delighted to welcome this new aircraft into the Real Tonga fleet. It will provide more capacity for continued growth in the market as well as an improved product overall. This is the first of two SAABs that we plan to bring into the fleet and apart from offering our domestic customers an improved product, I am also looking forward to re-opening connections to our neighbours in Samoa and Niue. Our airline is currently undergoing some major developments, not just in terms of fleet, but which also include an International Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), which is a globally recognised safety standard under the stewardship of IATA. Following the successful completion of this audit, it is our plan to have the airline become a full member of IATA, so that we can, not only provide the highest standards to our customers, but also take advantages of the many inherent benefits of IATA membership including increased access to global sales channels. The aircraft is currently widely used in both Australia and New Zealand, which means that we will benefit from improved spares turnarounds as well as other technical support. The aircraft is on a lease agreement with Montrose Asia Pacific PTY Ltd and we are grateful to have had their support through this project and to have developed a working relationship with a company of their calibre.”
Its funny how complacent we can get when it comes to our day to day observations and it was one of these occasions whilst visiting Auckland International a couple of days ago that a glance to the domestic ramp area saw a Beech 1900D parked up. Nothing strange about that - oh, but hold on - Eagle Airways withdrew from Auckland operations back in early February! And wait a minute - its All Black Beech ZK-EAG and this aircraft had been withdrawn from flying duties in March!
Some quick research was done and thanks to FlightRadar24 it was possible to track down ZK-EAG movements with it flying up from Hamilton to Auckland on 20 April, apparently for temporary storage but I'd have thought there would be ample space at Hamilton?
Looking through the schedules it seems Eagle Airways will be operating out of Auckland to Wanganui and back from 10 May for a few weeks in lieu of Air Nelson Q300's.