04 June 2020

Jetstar Starts Spool Up

A restart of Jetstar's New Zealand domestic operation looks to be imminent with pilots preparing to return to work and cut-price airfares on sale from July 1. Jetstar's operations ground to a halt at the same time its parent company Qantas suspended all international flights in late March due to fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. Both airlines have largely been in hibernation since then with the majority of their 30,000 staff stood down. Jetstar now appears to be preparing for a return to New Zealand skies with fares from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin available from July 1, including Auckland to Wellington for as little as $34. A Jetstar spokeswoman on Wednesday said: "We’re monitoring demand on domestic New Zealand routes and working through the New Zealand in-flight requirements, and will have an update soon." New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) president Andrew Ridling said it understood that the airline was "preparing a pathway back to its domestic operations. Pilots are now undertaking recurrent training for this event," Ridling said. "We are expecting more information from Jetstar imminently. “ E tū union has 170 members employed at Jetstar while NZALPA has 85 pilots members at Jetstar. Dunedin Airport chief executive Richard Roberts said it had been in discussions with Jetstar about domestic services returning but did not know when those would resume or what routes and schedules the airline would operate. "We would welcome them back, as I'm sure any airport would, with open arms," Roberts said. Jetstar flew daily flights between Auckland and Dunedin before the Covid-19 outbreak, he said. A Queenstown Airport spokeswoman said: "We look forward to Jetstar recommencing domestic services at Queenstown Airport." On Monday Cabinet will assess whether the country should enter Alert Level 1, and there's a possibility a move down from level 2 could happen a few days later. At Alert Level 1 physical distancing will no longer be required on public transport and planes. Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand executive director Justin Tighe-Umbers said operating flights with normal passenger loads was particularly important for low cost carriers such as Jetstar to resume flights. Jetstar's spokeswoman said due to the Australian and New Zealand government’s international travel restrictions, it had cancelled trans-Tasman flights up until the end of June, she said. It was reviewing its trans-Tasman operations and further cancellations beyond the end of June were likely, she said. "We will update customers should their flights be impacted." 

Air NZ increasing domestic flights in July and August

Air New Zealand has today released its domestic schedule for July and August. The airline plans to operate around 55 percent of its usual domestic capacity (compared to pre-COVID-19 levels) during July and August. Since the start of Alert Level 2 the airline has been flying to the majority of the domestic ports it serviced pre-COVID-19, albeit with reduced frequencies. Its Timaru-Wellington and Taupo-Auckland routes resume this coming Monday. Air New Zealand General Manager Networks Scott Carr says the airline continues to further build its domestic schedule. “We’ve been encouraged by demand from leisure travellers recently and we’re also expecting demand for business travel to continue to build. As a result, we have been working to add more flying to our domestic schedule from next month and this includes additional services for the July school holidays. “From next month, we’ll resume our Invercargill-Auckland A320 jet service which will operate four return services a week and we’ll also resume operating our Invercargill-Wellington, Christchurch-Rotorua and Christchurch-New Plymouth routes. These routes will add further direct connections for customers travelling between the North and South Islands.” The airline will operate the following return services in July and August –

Auckland to/from:
Blenheim 16 weekly returns with Q300s
Christchurch 59  weekly returns with A320s
Dunedin 13 weekly returns with A320s
Gisborne 23 weekly returns with Q300s
Invercargill 4 weekly returns with A320s
Kerikeri 16 weekly returns with Q300s
Napier 36 weekly returns with ATRs and Q300s
Nelson 32 weekly returns with ATRs and Q300s
New Plymouth 25 weekly returns with ATRs and Q300s
Palmerston North 37 weekly returns with ATRs
Rotorua 10 weekly returns with Q300s
Tauranga 28 weekly returns with ATRs and Q300s
Taupo 9 weekly returns with Q300s
Wellington 64 weekly returns with A320s
Whangarei 17 weekly returns with Q300s
Queenstown 47 weekly returns with A320s

Wellington to/from:
Blenheim 17 weekly returns with Q300
Dunedin 19 weekly returns with A320s and ATRs
Gisborne 11 weekly returns with Q300s
Hamilton 27 weekly returns with ATRs and Q300s
Invercargill 7 weekly returns with Q300s
Napier 16 weekly returns with ATRs
Nelson 33 weekly returns with ATRs and Q300s
New Plymouth 16 weekly returns with ATRs and Q300s
Queenstown 19 weekly returns A320s and ATRs
Rotorua 16 weekly returns with ATRs and Q300s
Tauranga 22 weekly returns with ATRs and Q300s
Timaru 9 weekly returns Q300s

Christchurch to/from:
Dunedin 25 weekly returns with ATRs
Hokitika 9 weekly returns with Q300s
Hamilton 15 weekly returns with ATRs
Invercargill 20 weekly returns with ATRs
Napier 15 weekly returns with ATRs and Q300s
Nelson 25 weekly returns with Q300s
New Plymouth 7 weekly returns with Q300s
Palmerston North 19 weekly returns with ATRs
Rotorua 7 weekly returns with Q300s
Tauranga 10 weekly returns with Q300s
Wellington 66 weekly returns with A320s, ATRs and Q300s
Queenstown 18 weekly returns with A320s and ATRs

Flights will be progressively available to book over the coming days at www.airnewzealand.co.nz. Additional frequencies will continue to be reintroduced as demand permits. The airline will notify any affected customers in the coming days. Air New Zealand’s dedicated COVID-19 information hub is being updated continuously and customers should check this first, before calling the airline’s contact centre.

Source : Air New Zealand Media Release

The Kaitaia Medical Flights

This Northern Advocate article gives a really good look at the Kaitaia medical flights...

Flights to transport medical personnel between Whangārei and Kaitaia took off again last week after a two-month Covid-19 hiatus. The Northland District Health Board (NDHB) medical commuter flights scheme is one of only two in New Zealand – the other in the Southern District Health Board at the bottom of the South Island. The first two flights left Whangārei on Monday, May 25, with six more flights scheduled during the week to take health specialists north. Up to 10 people commute daily from Whangārei to work at the district health board's Kaitaia Hospital. The flights take health experts work in specialist clinics and surgery theatres covering orthopaedics, general surgery, ear nose and throat, gynaecology, renal, dietetics, paediatrics, dentistry and urology. NDHB dental patients from Whangārei are also flown north for dentistry work. The board's work of this type is done out of Kaitaia Hospital as part of managing its regional theatre availability and use. Management and teams delivering training also commute as space allows. About 20 experts fly backwards and forwards monthly, leaving Whangārei at 8am and departing Kaitaia at 4pm. One or two five-seater planes fly up to five days a week, depending on demand - with Tauranga-based Sunair Aviation from its Whangārei terminal. There are about 100 passenger trips a month. Thirty minutes flying time each way replaces a four-hour 300 kilometre round trip by road. The reduced travel time means more time's available for specialists' working time. Flights leave from Whangārei Airport, landing at Kaitaia Airport. The NDHB flights have been running for more than 20 years.

Source : 

03 June 2020

Rebuilding the Kaitaia Service

Barrier Air have added a further two flights to Kaitaia each week to accommodate Kaitaia business travel. From Sunday there is a Sunday evening departure from Auckland and a Monday morning return flight back to Auckland Airport. They are also operating a Friday evening return service!

The midday flights to Kaitaia continue to operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

1815 Auckland - Kaitaia
0650 Kaitaia - Auckland

1100 Auckland - Kaitaia
1240 Kaitaia - Auckland

1815 Auckland - Kaitaia
1935 Kaitaia - Auckland

29 May 2020

More Pet Flights

From Air Napier's Facebook page  today...

🐶    Pet flights are happening with more routes! Get them cages ready for Saturday 6th June flights around NZ  between Gisborne, Napier, Palmerston North and Christchurch 😻 Check out the full route, schedule and prices at airnapier.co.nz/pet-air

Your paw pal can’t make it 6th June? Don’t worry, catch a flight on Saturday 4th July as well as 1st August 🐾

The last pet flight, Air Napier's Piper Navajo ZK-NPR arriving at Christchurch 0 9 May 2020

Kaikōura Air Service Starting Well

Air Kaikōura has launched its first return flight to Wellington and is already hoping to expand its services. Air Kaikōura manager Murray Hamilton said their hope was to fly to Wellington, Blenheim and back to Kaikōura. "We haven't finalised all those details but that's definitely our intention. “We are an aero club but Air Kaikōura is our business, and we have been running whale watching flights for 30 years now," Hamilton said. The first flight to Wellington wasn't fully booked but "we had good numbers, four up and five back". They were using a GA-8 Airvan for their services and it could transport up to seven passengers. The airline initially had two aircraft, but were adding a third plane in service, Hamilton said. Ticket sales were going very well, "we are pleased with the way it started, and we just got to make sure it keeps growing”. The cost of a one-way flight would be $150 per person within the three regions. It was a beautiful scenic flight up the coast and it would take about 50-minutes to Wellington and a similar time back to Kaikōura, Hamilton said. At this time they were operating one return flight from Kaikōura on Fridays and Sundays with the help of four pilots. On both the days, the aircraft departs out of Kaikōura at 2pm and arrives in Wellington at 3pm, and departs Wellington at 3.30pm and arrives in Kaikōura at 4.30pm, Hamilton said. Wellington resident Priya Patel was one of the first passengers to use the Air Kaikōura flight, and said the service was “amazing”. “It was a very small flight so it was quick, it was an hour each way ... and probably the first time you could fly directly into Kaikōura,” she said. Another Kaikōura resident and principal advisor for the Government's Covid-19 response team, Libby Clifford was one of the first passengers who took the flight to Kaikōura from Wellington on May 15. "I came down from Wellington to Kaikōura on the Friday night and then I came back up on the Sunday,” she said. “It [flight] was very convenient and very efficient and it was awesome, and I got to surprise my fiancé which was super fun." Prior to this flight Clifford usually flew in or out of either Blenheim or Christchurch. "It [flight] saves me four hours of driving and paying for the parking so it's definitely worth it." The service was great, it was very fast and very efficient she said. "The plane was very small but you get an incredible view. You see more of the country and see more of the scenery, so it was really cool,” she said. Clifford said she would be using this flight at least once a fortnight. 

"...probably the first time you could fly directly into Kaikōura"  No, there have been other operators, Three operating services to Wellington and two to Christchurch. Can you think what they are? See http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2014/11/kaikoura-airfield-history.html

For more on Air Kaikoura see -

28 May 2020

Picton and Paraparaumu flights to Resume

On Sounds Air's website today...

You asked, and we listened... We are excited to include PICTON and PARAPARAUMU flights in our reduced schedule!


Here is what we'll have available during JUNE:

• Picton: MON/FRI/SAT AM and FRI/SUN PM.
• Paraparaumu: FRI/SUN PM (to and from both Blenheim & Nelson).


Our reduced schedule for Christchurch, Westport and Taupo will remain throughout June as below:

• Christchurch: MON/WED/FRI AM & PM. Fares available from $139
• Westport: MON/WED/FRI AM & PM. Fares available from $154
• Taupo: MON/WED AM and WED/THU/FRI PM. Fares available from $169

Real Tonga Turbulence

It's been a while since I have posted on REAL Tonga... here is an updates of joys but bigger sorrows...

2 July 2018 - Real Tonga Airlines starts twice weekly service to Samoa

Real Tonga Airlines has made its first flight to Samoa's Faleolo Airport, starting a twice weekly flight service between Tonga and Samoa. Its chief executive Tevita Palu told the Samoa Observer that they chose Samoa as their first international destination because of the love for the country. The airline has been servicing Tonga domestically since its inception five years ago. Polynesian Airlines, now Samoa Airways, used to fly between Apia and Tongatapu in the 1980s and 1990s. Mr Palu said there hasn't been a direct service from Tonga to Samoa for almost ten years and the only way to get to Samoa was to go via Auckland or Nadi. Real Tonga flights from Tongatapu and Vava'u to Apia are on Mondays and Fridays.

Source : https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/360887/real-tonga-airlines-starts-twice-weekly-service-to-samoa

30 July 2019 - REAL Tonga Airlines Flights To Nausori International Airport To Be A Hit Say CEO

The arrival of the inaugural REALtonga Airlines flight to Nausori International Airport yesterday, presented an exciting new chapter and new possibilities. In terms of mutual collaboration to develop trade and tourism partnership between Fiji and Tonga. The flight serviced by a REALtonga Airlines Saab 340B brought in 12 VIPS and 12 other passengers from Fua’amotu International Airport, Tonga. The airline will service the route every Monday. Chief executive officer of REALtonga Airlines Tevita Palu said: “This is an inaugural flight, we enjoyed the flight today. So instead of going via Nadi which used to take one day of travel, people can now opt to travel via Nausori which will only take one hour 40 minutes. “This flight will operate every Monday morning. We are already looking to have a second service to Suva sometime soon. We are looking forward to offering a good service for the people of Fiji and Tonga.”
Rosie Travel Group general manager Eroni Puamau while welcoming the Tongan delegation said: “This mutual interest in commerce between our nations was forged way back in the early 1800s when Tongan traders would visit our islands to trade their stunning tapa and fine mats for our Fijian handicrafts and ocean canoes. The arrival of this inaugural REALtonga Airlines flight is an exciting new chapter of new possibilities in our mutual collaboration to develop our trade and tourism partnership. Chairman and Reverend Palu, we congratulate you and your team for your courage and determination in making this dream a reality not just for your REALtonga Airlines but also for the people and the Kingdom of Tonga! I have found….that nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks! We admire your courage and most of all, your faith in believing in your mission to connect Tonga to Fiji and the world through your airline,” said Mr Puamua. REAL Tonga is planning to expand its service even further to Nadi through its wet-lease arrangement with Nauru Airlines. Under this the Nauru flag carrier will provide a Boeing 737-300 wide bodied aircraft for flights from Tongatapu to Nadi to Auckland International Airport, New Zealand. These flights will be introduced by late October and it will include 2x weekly flights, with the intention to increase to 3x weekly as soon as possible. REALtonga already operates a weekly Tonga-Samoa-Tonga flight as well as domestic services between Tonga’s main islands. Mr Palu stated this new arrangement with Nauru Airlines introduces the start of broader international operations for Tonga which to date have been dominated by foreign carriers. The inaugural flight fare Nuku’alofa -Suva-Nuku’alofa was $800 return but would revert back to $900 soon. The Tongan delegation was led by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Kingdom of Tonga, Lord Fatafehi Fakafanua, accompanied by the chairman of REALtonga Airlines,  Vainga Palu, REALtonga Airlines managing director Reverend Tevita Palu, Executives of REALtonga Airlines. Also in attendance were the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Fiji  Airports personnel.
In July, 2015, REALtonga and Fiji Airways had entered into a codeshare partnership which saw our national carrier extend its services from Nuku’alofa to Vava’u, Tonga. This codeshare arrangement provided vital connections between Vava’u and Nadi (weekly) and Suva (twice weekly) via Nuku’alofa. 
Meanwhile, Rosie Holidays is very excited to be working with REALtonga Airlines to develop a tourism partnership programme that will look to create joint opportunities to market our mutual destinations throughout our international distribution network. Mr Puamua said: “Rosie has been working directly with tourism operator partners in the Tongan tourism industry for a number of years and we see this collaboration with Real Tonga Airlines as a significant step up in our focus in building our Pacific partnership program. “What is exciting about Tonga is the authenticity and uniqueness of your experiences, the friendliness of your people and your proximity to Fiji which makes for the perfect combination of island experiences with Fiji. “Access to market is an important factor for success and this is something we are very keen to build on our mutual promotion with your REALtonga Airlines to bring new markets to your shores. “We also believe that tourism is a force for good! “Beyond the exciting opportunities for market development, we see tourism as a key generator of much needed foreign exchange and employment to both our economies and especially for Tonga. “And this is why we need this new service to succeed! “We look forward to working with your Government, with Tevita and the team at REALtonga Airlines and your tourism industry in Tonga to develop and grow our mutually rewarding partnership so that we can all realise this dream of making our nations great through tourism and trade,” Mr Puamau said.

7 May 2020 - Questions emerge over future of Tonga's domestic airline

Tonga's only domestic airline, the privately-owned Real Tonga, is reportedly on the verge of bankruptcy. The Minister of Finance, Tevita Lavemaau, made the revelation in a government press statement. Owner and CEO of Real Tonga, Tevita Palu, confirmed the situation but also gave his reasons for the airline being in debt for millions of dollars. Mr Lavemaau said most of Real Tonga's indebtedness was to the government. This is said to have been made up of the dry lease of two planes and landing fees that had not been paid. China gifted Tonga two planes, a Y-12 and a MA60, to be used for domestic air services. Because the government did not have its own airline, an arrangement was made with Real Tonga for the lease of the planes. Tevita Lavemaau suggested the government could wind up the airline and claimed it had been operating at a loss since its inception seven years ago. The Covid-19 lockdown and suspension of air services during the State of Emergency had made things worse for Real Tonga. A number of staff, including pilots, had been laid off, and Tevita Palu indicated his other businesses had helped to fund Real Tonga. If Real Tonga ceased services there would be no air links to the outer islands of 'Eua, Ha'apai, Vava'u, and the Niuas. Real Tonga also started weekly services to Samoa last year. There had been complaints that the fares on Real Tonga to the outer islands were too expensive, and there had been calls for another airline to compete with Real Tonga. Earlier, Chatham Airlines had provided domestic services, but when Real Tonga was accepted as a second service, the former decided to leave. Real Tonga had been the sole domestic operator over the past seven years. Prime Minister Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa told Radio 88.1 a proposal had been submitted to Cabinet on starting a new airline. This proposal was submitted by a group including former pilots and staff from Real Tonga. The Prime Minister said no decision had been made on the proposal. In the meantime Real Tonga and the government were continuing talks on possible solutions. Prime Minister Tu'i'onetoa indicated there were two possible options. Firstly, that government would set up its own airline or register another airline company; or secondly there could be a joint partnership between government and Real Tonga to provide domestic services. The issue had been hotly debated on social media, with the talks complicated by both Tevita Palu and government officials talking separately to media outlets. Real Tonga Airlines flights from Tongatapu and Vavau to Apia are on Mondays and Fridays. 

12 May 2020 - Lack of Govt support adds to Real Tonga’s woes

While Tonga’s only airline, Real Tonga, struggles with the impact of ongoing CoVid-19 restrictions, the private sector company faces another tough challenge, a lack of government support and government's attempts to set up a new airline. Meanwhile, Real Tonga is not flying after the SAAB 340 serving the domestic route, suffered engine problems in a bird strike in Vava’u last week

27 May 2020 - “Lulutai” name of Tonga's new domestic airline

The name of Tonga's new domestic airline will be “Lulutai”, the Prime Minister Hon. Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa, told parliament today. The Prime Minister had just returned from the Palace Office before he made the announcement in the House after lunch today. His comment was made during the continuing debate on the budget statement. The Minister of Finance has announced there will be a deficit budget for the coming year. No further details were forthcoming about the new airline to be set up by the Government. 
Real Tonga
Tonga's privately owned domestic airline Real Tonga, which was branching out into Pacific islands international services, has been struggling with the CoViD-19 restrictions. Its leased domestic aircraft was grounded this month after a bird strike in Vava'u. There were problems also with two planes Real Tonga initially leased from government, the Y-12 and MA60, that were gifted to Tonga from the Chinese Government. Tevita said the MA60 lease was terminated and the Y-12 lease expired and had not been renewed. The government-owned planes were grounded with parts issues. CEO Tevita Palu said in an interview with Matangi Tonga in May, that instead of offering support to Real Tonga at this time, the government had asked if they could set up their new airline's office in his hangar at Fua'amotu Airport.

27 May 2020

Regional Business Flights Resume

Air New Zealand will operate business-timed flights in and out of a number of regional ports from next month. The flights will allow customers in Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill to undertake a day of business in either Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch. Air New Zealand General Manager Networks Scott Carr says the airline has also timed flights allowing those in the main centres to be able to fly to the majority of these regions for a day of business. “Since publishing our domestic schedule for Alert Level 2, we’ve seen a good initial response from leisure travellers. As we further build our domestic schedule, we’re looking to cater for resumed business travel which we know helps support economic activity in regional New Zealand. As our corporate customers get moving again, we encourage take-up of these new services which depart first thing in the morning, returning in the late afternoon or evening.” The new flights are as follows:

Departs Hamilton 7:30am
Departs Wellington 6:05pm

Departs Tauranga 7:00am
Departs Auckland 6:15pm

Departs Napier 7:20am
Departs Auckland 3:30pm/6:30pm

New Plymouth-Auckland
Departs New Plymouth 8:05am
Departs Auckland 4:25pm

New Plymouth-Wellington
Departs New Plymouth 7:30am
Departs Wellington 5:00pm

Palmerston North-Auckland
Departs Palmerston North 7:15am
Departs Auckland 4:30pm

Departs Nelson 6:30am/8:05am
Departs Auckland 3:00pm/5:20pm

Departs Nelson 7:05am
Departs Wellington 4:30pm/5:50pm

Departs Nelson 7:25am
Departs Christchurch 6:15pm

Departs Dunedin 7:00am
Departs Christchurch 5:55pm

Departs Invercargill 8:45am
Departs Christchurch 4:45pm

The business-timed flights take effect from 8 June are available to book now at www.airnewzealand.co.nz

Source :  Air New Zealand Press Release

22 May 2020

West Coast Helicopters - 35 years ago

West Coast Helicopters Ltd's Hughes 500D ZK-HMG at Greymouth on 10 May 1985

Whirlwide Helicopters' Bell Jetranger in Kaniere Forest on 12 May 1985

Colin Tuck & John Singer's Hughes 500C ZK-HRI at Kaniere on 25 May 1985

19 May 2020

Air Auckland Airborne Again

On the Air Auckland Facebook page yesterday...

Team Air Auckland is back to operation!! 
Updates: Just a few updates we want to share with you:
Face mask: are available to passengers if they would like to wear one.
Hygiene: all aircraft will be disinfected after each flight; hand sanitizer will be provided to all passengers and staffs;
Office: offices will be disinfected regularly and social distancing will be maintained to give additional confidence to staff and passengers;
Trace: following government guidelines, our booking system will record passengers’ details (names, phone number, emails etc.) so that contact tracing can be conducted if needed as required by the government;
Vouchers: if you have a voucher purchased before lock-down, please contact us at 0508 235 969 to book your flight in.

Air Auckland operate an air taxi service from Ardmore to Great Barrier Island or Whitianga as well as charter services and scenic flights.

Gisborne Flight Delay

On the Sunair Facebook page this morning...

Due to a small delay on plane availability we are unable to offer Gisborne flights until the 2nd June. If you require something urgently before this, please give us a call and we will see what we can do. However, our scheduled flights to and from this region will not resume until Tuesday, 2nd June. We apologise for any disrupts and look forward to carrying you all aboard very soon! 🛩

18 May 2020

Plane Spotting Operations Resume

I had the opportunity to go plane spotting for the first time today since lockdown... it was a beautiful day at Tauranga on 18 May 2020... Nice to catch up Pete!

On flying duties for Sunair are Piper Aztecs ZK-DGS...
and ZK-ERM. It was nice to see ERM on the 14th... it flew from Whangarei to Hamilton and then doing a charter to Wellington and back.
Withdrawn from use is Piper Aztec ZK-PIW
ZK-TDM is also out of action at present is ZK-TDM with its port engine removed.
On departure was Air New Zealand Bombardier Q300 ZK-NEO

This was the first time I had seen Cessna 172 ZK-FLT in Tauranga Aero Club colours
This was also the first time I had seen Tecnam P96 Golf ZK-WFG 

Way to go Originair...

Originair returns to the skies again next week. The following email was sent out today...

Originair back in the skies from 29 May 2020. We are excited to share that we are resuming our flight schedule on the Nelson–Palmerston North and Nelson–Wellington routes from 29 May 2020. An updated schedule is available on our website and all flights are now available for purchase. The schedule is almost identical to what was on offer prior to lockdown – we are offering four flights per day, on four days each week. We have ‘winterised’ the schedule slightly so that the last flights on each day arrive a little earlier as we know people like to get home earlier during the colder months. We are very grateful to all of you for your support and understanding throughout the lockdown and also to those who used Originair for charter flights to transport essential services personnel and goods. We understand that these are incredibly difficult times for many New Zealanders and that many people are currently facing hardship due to unemployment and food insecurity. We believe that every business needs to do its bit in whatever way it can, so we will be donating passenger fare revenues generated from the first week of our resumed flights commencing 29 May, to the Salvation Army, which will use the money to support its food banks in Nelson Tasman, Palmerston North and Wellington. Major Ken Smith, Pastor and Corps Officer for the Salvation Army in Nelson says that the Originair donation will provide much-needed support at this time. “We’re grateful for the many people and organisations like Originair who help us to help others in a time of need,” says Major Smith. “Salvation Army food banks have been running hot with high demand for the last few weeks so support such as this is greatly appreciated and will help immensely.” The Originair team is looking forward to providing scheduled services again and to welcoming you onboard our aircraft from 29 May.

To book go to : https://originair.co.nz/

16 May 2020

Coming Back to Whanganui - and the Tim Tam Story

Council support likely for Air Chathams
Passenger service and Tim Tams back soon

It has been a tough few months for Whanganui's much-loved Air Chathams but the company says it will be back, hoping to resume passenger services by the end of the month. "We are very, very keen to get back into Whanganui," chief executive Duane Emery said. "It really is a big part of our business, a really important part of our business too. "We've got a great following there, the business community all the way through to just your general leisure passenger, that loves flying with us." The company has been in conversations with Whanganui District Council to help resume flights, and is expecting to hear back from them within the next 24 to 48 hours. From there it will be able to start its plan to rebuild the service. "At this stage we are forecasting to have flights back in the system before Queen's Birthday weekend," Emery said. In a statement Whanganui District Council chief executive Kym Fell said there is significant support from elected council members to resume air services from Whanganui, and that discussions are under way around possible support packages. That may consist of a loan, concession considerations and potentially a joint contribution towards marketing Whanganui district. The new flights will take fewer passengers to allow for physical distancing, and along with beefed-up cleaning and sanitising routines, the airline will introduce compulsory masks for passengers and crew. "What we really want is people to jump on the flight, get off at the other end and be really impressed at what Air Chathams are doing 'that make me feel safe'," said Emery. While most of its fleet was parked up over lockdown, there were some unexpected contracts that saw them transporting everything from prisoners to crayfish. The lack of Air NZ flights connecting Queenstown, Christchurch and Auckland meant crayfish companies commissioned flights to Auckland, for crayfish to be exported internationally. "We have picked up quite a lot of that work as well so that's really helped us out from a revenue point, just to keep things ticking over." Despite the extra contracts, the interruption has still played havoc with the company's bottom line, and higher airfares will be inevitable until finances return to normal. "I guess part of our 'support local effort' is that we are going to have some of our cheap flights in the system for the first couple of weeks, but after that - yes we will need to have a higher average fare." While welcoming customers back, the airline is keen to encourage them to consider going further than Auckland. "Go and see the eastern Bay of Plenty," said Emery. "Ohope Beach was rated New Zealand's favourite beach, I don't know how many years in a row. It is a beautiful spot, there's some amazing walks, you've got Motu trails with all the cycle trails." And of course, Air Chathams flies "overseas". "If you want to see something amazing, [there's] the place I grew up, the Chatham Islands," Emery said. Passengers may even get to ride the fleet's star attraction - the Convair. The planes' retirement from service is inevitable due to the cost of upgrade requirements and it spells the end of an era for these iconic planes built to fly the islands. "I can't say enough about that airplane, it's a 1960s design but it's been the mainstay of our fleet." And as for those Tim Tams? They're not going anywhere.