03 April 2020

Crystal Ball Gazing for 2020 Revisited

What a year! 

I don't think anyone was expecting 2020 would unfold as it has...

I hope you are safe and well in your bubble

Someone wrote comment on the blog suggesting I write a comment on the future of Air NZ. 

I've decided to revisit by crystal ball gazing from New Years Day... 

So, this is what I think now, remembering  I am just an armchair airline enthusiast...

Air New Zealand has made it clear that in the short term it will tend to be a domestic operator. International services will be very slow to build up as and when covid is controlled in destination countries. On the domestic scene, after the Christchurch earthquakes Air New Zealand slowly built up the services to Christchurch as the demand grew. It will be their task to build up domestic services again but with job losses and a much softer economy it won't be easy. It will never be a better time for kiwis to visit Queenstown so hopefully domestic tourism and family visiting family after lockdown might help kick start Air NZ's domestic services as business traffic builds up. As part of the Government's package they are not to drop any domestic ports. So a long haul for Air New Zealand to get back to where they were so a much smaller airline.

Jetstar have already indicated a restart on 1 June 2020, some weeks after the lockdown ends. Clearly they don't want to be flying in the building up of traffic phase which indicates something of the nature of Jetstar in the New Zealand market. Look for a leaner Jetstar.

I suspect Air Chathams doesn't owe a lot on its fleet which will help keep it in a reasonable position. The frequency of the Chathams' service will depend on the capacity to export fish beyond NZ. The Whakatāne, Whanganui and Kāpiti routes will rebuild slower. Air Chathams' capacity to use smaller aircraft, eg a Metro instead of a Saab, is an advantage. If we become covid free and Norfolk Island remain covid free I imagine the Norfolk Island service will be able to start early and Norfolk Island will be an attractive covid-free destination. Can't see much work for the ATR. This might be the time to pick up further Saabs and ATRs at a lower cost.

Barrier Air was expecting to carry 70,000 passengers this year. It could still happen. Domestic tourism is going to take off in the short term when there is little international travel and certainly Great Barrier Island has a lot to offer. Marketing Great Barrier Island and Kaitaia as winter destinations would be key. Barrier Air has proved itself as a quality operator.

I suspect Sounds Air will ramp up to normality reasonably quickly, especially if Air New Zealand slowly ramps up its frequency. That would enable a healthy return to services to Blenheim and Nelson.

If Air Napier can maintain its freight service to Gisborne it will be business as usual. I doubt whether there would be any further expansion

Fly My Sky has a new owner but what an awful time for the new owner to take over... however, we were coming into winter when there was lesser demand.  As stated above for Barrier Air domestic tourism is going may take off in the short term and Great Barrier Island has a lot to offer. Services to Matamata, which have never really taken off, won't be a feature until we overseas tourist traffic. 

Sunair run on demand. They will build up again as they do. Their Great Barrier services will be the mainstay of their recovery. The new schedule was already reducing flights on the Gisborne and Whangarei services to Hamilton and Tauranga. 

Golden Bay Air has a nice market in the Golden Bay. It is also has a certain level of domestic tourist traffic. I think it should bounce back nicely. 

Stewart Island Flights carries a lot of international tourists. Services operate on demand and will build slowly initially driven by Stewart Island local traffic and domestic tourism. 

Another bounce back for Originair. Don't look for flights to New Plymouth in a hurry.

Air Auckland operates largely as an air taxi and I wonder how much traffic it gets. Time will tell.

Click on comments to read what others think or make your own comment

Island Flyers

$1.7 million has been fast-tracked from the Government's $600 million aviation support package to be distributed to airlines which service New Zealand's offshore island communities. This includes the Chatham Islands, Great Barrier Island and Mōtītī Island, off Tauranga. "Island residents are relying on air connectivity, particularly during the Alert Level 4 period, and we've moved quickly to ensure these services are able to continue," Transport Minister Phil Twyford told 1 NEWS in a statement today. In the last few weeks, the planes have been focused on transporting freight rather than people, carting essential supplies such as food, medicines and equipment to keep essential services running on the islands. Air Chathams is welcoming the funding, saying it will enable them to run around three services a week for two to three months to the island. However, they say any support from the Government will need to be ongoing throughout this time if they're to keep the vital freight service operating.

02 April 2020

Air New Zealand updates domestic network

Air New Zealand is adjusting its domestic network with New Zealand now at Alert Level 4. The airline will operate a limited domestic schedule from 3 April to enable essential travel only and to keep air freight moving. Overall, domestic capacity will reduce by 95 percent from pre-COVID-19 levels. Air New Zealand Chief Revenue Officer Cam Wallace says the airline would usually fly more than 400 domestic flights daily prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Domestic travel is still an option but is extremely limited while New Zealand is at Alert Level 4 and we have updated our schedule to reflect this. In the coming weeks we will be operating a limited number of flights a day using our A320 jet aircraft, as well as our ATR and Q300 turboprop aircraft. “Kiwis are respecting the Government’s essential travel only advice, however, we still ask customers to please check they qualify to travel under the essential services list before booking a ticket or going to the airport.” Air New Zealand has also established a process whereby the airline will operate ad hoc domestic charter flights at the request of the New Zealand Government. These flights can be undertaken to all domestic airports within New Zealand within a matter of hours. The airline’s domestic schedule while the country is at Alert Level 4 is as follows – 

Source : Air New Zealand Media Release

01 April 2020

Sounds Air suspends Westport flights

The cancellation of the Westport service is not news... but the piece about how Westport is doing is interesting. Go Sounds Air!

Sounds Air has suspended its Westport flights during the Covid-19 lockdown. Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine said yesterday he understood the Civil Aviation Authority had also prohibited all recreational flying during the level 4 alert. Air New Zealand is still flying into Hokitika from Christchurch. Mr Cleine said he had not spoken to Sounds Air directors but the Westport to Wellington route had been going well prior to the lockdown. "I understand most of the Westport to Wellington flights were full or three-quarters full, so I'm pretty confident that route will bounce back once the lockdown is over." Although small planes, the service offered a quick link between the Coast and the capital and was popular with professionals.

This is no April Fools Joke

Air New Zealand has started the "painful process" of slashing its workforce, with overseas staff first to face losing their jobs. And the airline is "planning to be a domestic airline with limited international services". A third of the airline's 12,500 staff may go as the impact of Covid-19 slashes the airline's revenue and will be a test of years of a collaborative approach to labour relations. In an email sent to staff and Airpoints members last night, chief executive Greg Foran confirms reports in the Herald of major job losses following the revenue plunge from close to $6 billion a year to $500 million. Foran said the airline had cut more than 95 per cent of its flights in New Zealand and around the world and warns that staff cuts may be even more drastic. The only flights remaining are in place to keep supply lines open and transport options for essential services personnel. The airline is in the final stages of finalising its domestic network which could fall from 20 centres to close to half a dozen. ''We are no different to a household. We have outgoings like debt repayments, utilities bills, lease payments [in our case planes not cars] etc … and we need income [or as we call it – revenue] to cover all our bills,'' he told Airpoints members. Before Covid-19 wiped out global air travel, the company had annual revenue of around $5.8b. "After paying all our bills, that saw us end the last financial year making a profit of $374m. And we had over a billion dollars in the bank, which was our version of the rainy-day account in case an unexpected event hit our business," he said. "Unfortunately, Covid-19 has seen us go from having revenue of $5.8b to what is shaping up to be less than $500m annually based on the current booking patterns we are seeing. This has the potential to be catastrophic for our business unless we take some decisive action." Foran, a Kiwi who headed Walmart United States, started work at the airline as the crisis escalated, and said the only way it would see an improvement in that revenue estimate this calendar year is if Kiwis embrace domestic travel after the alert level 4 is lifted. The "harsh reality" is that most countries will take a cautious approach to allowing international tourism in the next year, New Zealand included. International tourism flows make up two-thirds of Air New Zealand's revenue. Foran said that was billions of dollars in ticket sales the airline wouldn't be booking and more than 1.5 million tourists who won't be arriving here to fly on our domestic network. "In that light, it is clear the Air New Zealand which emerges from Covid-19 is a much smaller airline and could take years to get back to its former size. Therefore, we are planning to be a domestic airline with limited international services to keep supply lines open for the foreseeable future." Air New Zealand would be smaller for some time and need fewer staff. "We expect that even in a year's time we will be at least 30 per cent smaller than we are today," said Foran. "Our monthly labour cost alone is $110m. We have $960m in cash reserves today, but with very little revenue coming in, our cash balance will fall by tens of millions of dollars each week." The airline had negotiated a loan with the Government of up to $900m and expected it would need to begin to draw on that within months because outgoings were so high. Foran made the point that interest rates were up to 9 per cent. "'Every dollar we use from this loan facility comes with interest [more than double current interest rates for a household mortgage] and must be repaid." Through collaboration, the airline had been able to reduce costs by asking all staff to take leave without pay, forgo bonuses, reduce hours and consider voluntary exits. It had also made savings from voluntary pay cuts by the board, himself (his $1.65m pay has been cut by $250,000 for the rest of this financial year) and his executive team, and cancelling all incentive payments for staff on individual employment agreements. "While these measures help, they only go part of the way to reducing costs to the level we need to be viable in the long-term." The Government's recently announced wage subsidy may provide some relief which would be helpful, he said. "We are working with the Government to determine how the subsidy can be applied in our business and in turn to the benefit of our people. The subsidy is, however, a short-term measure and doesn't right-size the business for the future, especially when you consider that even in a year, we will be 30 per cent smaller than we are today. "But we are grateful that the Government has put in place a scheme that means the cuts to the size of our workforce are not as deep as they may have needed to [be]." Foran said burdening the airline with massive debt would significantly lessen its ability to compete with airlines emerging from Covid-19. With many airline failures likely, aircraft will be cheap to operate in new ways which will be a threat to legacy carriers such as Air New Zealand, no matter how nimble they have been recently. "Unfortunate as it is, our revenue and expenses forecasting indicate that a large-scale reduction of the workforce must occur on top of all our other actions," he said. "The extent of this reduction is based on conservative assumptions and we may have to change these as the situation evolves, especially if the level 4 alert goes beyond the planned 28 days or border restrictions are in place for a prolonged period." This week the airline would begin the process of a large-scale reduction of its workforce in the international regions. New Zealand cuts would follow once the executive agrees a final plan in the coming days. "These are necessary measures to ensure our nation retains an airline, albeit a smaller one. To be clear, it is shaping up that the size of the Air New Zealand workforce will reduce by up to 3500 roles in coming months. No areas will be immune, whether it is our most senior leaders through to new joiners. "The situation we find ourselves in is nobody's fault." He said he was acutely conscious that a smaller Air New Zealand also came with a significant impact on many suppliers, some of whom will probably have to reduce the size of their workforces because it won't be doing as much business with them.

31 March 2020

Back with Sunair

Further to the post on Waiheke Wings yesterday Cessna 172MZK-CBZ (c/n 17261691) has returned to the Sunair fleet being registered to Sunair Aviation Ltd on the 1st of March 2020.

The aircraft was registered to Auckland Seaplanes Ltd on the 7th of October 2018 for their Waiheke Wings operation.

30 March 2020


From the "to be confirmed" file, it seems Auckland Seaplanes and its associated operation, Waiheke Wings, have been grounded by CAA as opposed to the covid-19 virus.

I looked at flying Waiheke Wings in January and was told no bookings until after April!

Do you know who is Awesome in New Zealand?

Can anyone help me...  I'm wanting to find a Flickr account holder called "Awesome in NZ"


I'm wanting to see if I can use some of their photos in three future posts.

If you know who the person is and their contact details can you please email at   westland831@gmail.com

29 March 2020

Air Napier still flying freight

Regional airline Air Napier hopes the government wage subsidy will help the Hawke's Bay-based company keep staff employed, after it cancelled its 11 weekly chartered flights between Gisborne and Hawke's Bay, on Tuesday. “At the moment all scheduled flights have stopped but we are still doing freight and helping the freight providers to bring their stuff into Gisborne,” airline chief operating officer Mike Brown said. “We are also carrying on with some of our health duties for the district health board, in terms of moving doctors and equipment for them when they need it.” Chief executive Shah Aslam said the airline stopped flights following the announcement of higher Covid-19 Alert Levels on Tuesday. “The big one for us it to get those 11 flights a week back on as soon as possible after the four week period.” Mr Aslam hoped to be able to retain all 13 staff members, with the help of the government wage subsidy but there would be maintenance and fuel costs also to consider.

28 March 2020


Commercial Helicopters Ltd, that operates Fly My Sky has been sold. The Companies Register show that the new owners are Dawn and Scott Young took over ownership on the 20th of March 2020. They are also apparently the owners of Embraer 820 ZK-DSY.  It is certainly most unfortunate timing for the new owners.

Commercial Helicopters Ltd was formed by Keith and Robyn McKenzie in 1980 to take over James Aviation’s Taumarunui helicopter operation using a Hughes 500D.

In 1987 the company diversified into fixed wing operations trading as Mountain Air and offering scenic flights over the Central North Island’s Volcanic Plateau from near the Chateau using a Cessna 172 and Cessna 206. As Mountain Air grew Piper Aztecs and Britten Norman Islanders were added to the fleet and scheduled flights between the North Island skifields and Auckland were introduced.

In 1998 the Civil Aviation Authority grounded Great Barrier Airlines and to maintain its services the grounded airline chartered aircraft from its competitor, Northern Air, and also two aircraft from Mountain Air. This was the precurser to Mountain Air entering the Great Barrier route in its own right. 

The Chateau based fixed wing operation was sold to Brent and Kathy Guy in May 2007. 

In June 2008, the decision was made to rebrand the Mountain Air operation as Fly My Sky. This involved the Great Barrier Island operation and the Taumarunui-based helicopter operation. 

The helicopter operation ended in February 2017 when the Hughes 500 was sold. 

Fly My Sky currently offers flights between Auckland and Great Barrier Island and on Hobbiton flights between Auckland and Matamata. 

For a history of Mountain Air see

For a profile of Fly My Sky see

Auckland Council guarantees freight of essential goods to Great Barrier Island

Auckland Council has guaranteed the delivery of essential goods and services to Aotea / Great Barrier Island to ensure residents have access to critical medical supplies, medical testing material, fresh food and essential service workers. Mayor Phil Goff said, “Great Barrier is highly dependent on small aircraft flights and less frequent ferries to access essential products and services. With Alert Level 4 isolation rules restricting almost all travel, commercial operators are unable to provide the services they normally would, putting pressure on supply chains servicing the island. “To ensure the well-being of our Great Barrier Island residents, arrangements were needed quickly to ensure transport services could be maintained at a basic level sufficient to provide the essentials. “Auckland Council, through its Auckland Emergency Management function, will guarantee one flight per day to ensure essential services, products and workers continue to be available to all Great Barrier residents.” The flights will be operated by Barrier Air and will enable the delivery of 1.2 tonnes of goods to be delivered every day. The first delivery has already been completed. Waitematā and Gulf Ward Councillor Pippa Coom said the news would provide real comfort to Aotea/Great Barrier Island residents. “These are extraordinary times and stressful for everyone, but for remote communities there are additional pressures. That’s why the council took urgent steps to confirm this arrangement because it deals quickly with what was a unique and critical concern for the Great Barrier community. I’m really pleased that we can reduce some of the stress on Great Barrier Islanders by guaranteeing the delivery of essentials like medical care and food supplies.” Great Barrier Local Board Chair Izzy Fordham says, "The community of Aotea Great Barrier Island is eternally grateful to Auckland Council for granting them funds out of council's new $22.5 million contingency fun. "The grant will enable Barrier Air to continue to provide vital service to the island.  They hold the contract to carry the island's medical needs bringing in medical supplies, PPE, medical and nursing staff along with pharmaceuticals. On departure they carry all laboratory specimens and COVID-19 swabs. They are also contracted to bring all mail to and from the island. These services are crucial to the island's wellbeing and we thank Mayor Phil Goff, councillors and staff for their support during this difficult time."

27 March 2020

Chatham Islands Life Line

In accordance with New Zealand Government requirements Air Chathams is able to operate air freight services and to transport essential people.

The airline will be monitoring the islands need for freight services on a weekly basis.

The schedule for next week will be as follows:

Tuesday 31st March
Depart Chatham Islands @ 1000 Local - Arrive Christchurch @ 1130 Local
Depart Christchurch @ 1300 Local - Arrive Chathams @1545 Local

Thursday 2nd April
Depart Chatham Islands @ 0930 Local - Arrive Auckland @ 1130 Local
Depart Auckland @ 1400 Local - Arrive Chatham Islands @ 1700 Local

Friday 3rd April
Depart Chatham Islands @ 1015 Local - Arrive Wellington @ 1130 Local
Depart Wellington @ 1300 Local - Arrive Chatham Islands @ 1530 Local

The purpose of these flights is to provide essential freight services between the Chathams and Mainland NZ. However, there will be passenger seats available on some flights for transport of essential persons only. 

Part 2

Fly My Sky will continue to provide regular flights to and from Great Barrier Island during the Covid-19 period. After the end of today (Friday 27th March):
1. Freight will be available including Food Boxes.
2. Passengers; only Essential Service Passengers permitted as per Govt guidelines.

Source : Fly My Sky facebook page

Great Barrier Island life line

✈️ Barrier Air will be operating a daily flight schedule throughout the lockdown period. This will be limited to all freight including Food Boxes, medicine, medical samples, NZ Post and any other freight. The airline will also be carrying essential staff critical to the island. Barrier Air is also working with Countdown and Pak N Save to ensure that slots are easier to get for Great Barrier Island locals. The airline's facebook page says, "We understand the importance and critical nature of people on the Island being able to order food. We will update you on this issue as soon as we have further information."

Source : Barrier Air facebook page

26 March 2020

A question about the Mechanics Bay amphibians...

I've had an inquiry about the rebranding of NZ Tourist Air Travel amphibians into the Mount Cook Airlines colour scheme.

In particular the researcher is looking for answers to these sort of questions...

  • Were the aircraft repainted at Auckland or were they flown to Christchurch?
  • If they were repainted at Auckland did the Mechanics Bay engineers do it or did they have specialist painters and or sign writers involved? 

Any information would be appreciated - either as a comment below or email me at westland831@gmail.com and I will pass the information on

For those of you who don't know what I am talking about check out...