Alexandra's first scheduled air service was operated by Southern Scenic Airways which included Alexandra as a stop on its Queenstown to Dunedin air service. The last company to operate through Alexandra operated the same Dunedin-Alexandra-Queenstown. This last installment of air services through Alexandra focuses on Mainland Air and their brave attempt in 2007 and 2008 to connect Dunedin with Central Otago and Invercargill.
|A couple of examples of Mainland Air's single fleet. Above, Cessna 182P Skylane, ZK-FIW (c/n 182-64206) and below, Cessna 172N Skyhawk, ZK-JAF. Both photos were taken at Dunedin on 13 July 1994.|
|ZK-TBF, the first Piper Pa34 Seneca at Dunedin on 17 September 1992.|
|Piper Pa34 Seneca, ZK-DCP, at Dunedin on 13 July 1994.|
|The first Piper Pa31-350 Chieftain and still part of the Mainland Air fleet, ZK-KVW at Dunedin on 6 August 2001.|
|The interior of the Chieftain : Photo : Mainland Air|
|Piper Pa31-350 Navajo Chieftain was used on courier runs to Christchurch, general charter and air ambulance work. It is seen at Greymouth on an air ambulance flight on the 14th of December 1999. Photo : S Lowe|
|After the air service to Alexandra ended, Piper Seneca ZK-LSP was at Alexandra on 16 January 2009.|
|Piper Seneca ZK-JAS on a very wet day at Invercargill on 26 July 2006.|
|Some of the single engine fleet today. Above Cessna 152, ZK-NSD (c/n 15283209) on 7 February 2010 and, below, Socata TB 10, ZK-JIG (c/n 1603) on 9 February 2010. Both photos were taken at Dunedin.|
In October 2012 Mainland Air announced its intention to reintroduce, on a trial basis, flights from Dunedin to Queenstown and also flights between Dunedin and Christchurch. These plans were abandoned as was another plan to operate an Oamaru-Christchurch service.
In late 2013 Mainland Air was sold to veteran Southland pilot Phil Kean and his wife Shirley. Phil had been Mainland Air's operating manager since 2007. At the time of the take-over he was reported as saying, "I was always keen to own an airline business and this opportunity came along at the right time. The business would continue to operate under the same structure but he planned to look at using faster aircraft in the near future. The new aircraft would mean flights to Auckland and Christchurch would be about 20 minutes faster."
Expansion of the company occurred in 2014 when the company purchased a second Piper Chieftain, ZK-VIP, and introduced a scheduled service between Oamaru and Christchurch. The first flight was flown by Sven Thelning on Wednesday the 4th of June 2014 in Piper Pa31-350 Navajo Chieftain ZK-KVW. Seven flights are offered each week, with twice daily flights on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as well as a return service on Sunday afternoons using the company's Chieftain or Seneca aircraft.
|Arriving into Christchurch this morning, Mainland Air's inaugural air service between Oamaru and Christchurch.|
The Oamaru timetable effective 4 June 2014
Passenger numbers failed to build. At the end of July Shirley Kean was reported as saying "numbers had been too spread out. The service required five passengers on each round trip to be viable. The majority of flights averaged three passengers travelling to Christchurch, but none coming back. From the outset, the company had made it clear if the service did not work for it, it would be scrapped. We don't want to pull out," she said, "but if rescheduling doesn't work then we're out of there." The following month the company decided to end the Oamaru service. The final flight was operated by Piper Seneca ZK-LSP on 24 August 2014 under the command of Jordan Kean and Dan Veale.
|Jordan Kean (left) and Dan Veale (right) with Seneca ZK-LSP on the last day of Mainland Air's Oamaru service|
Mainland Air continue to operate regular charter flights from Dunedin to both Alexandra and Invercargill for medical staff from Dunedin hospital working in the hospitals at Alexandra and Dunedin. In 2015 their Piper Chieftain ZK-VIP was used for some months by Great Barrier Airlines and its successor Barrier Air.
|Mainland Air's Piper Chieftain ZK-VIP being used by Barrier Air at Auckland on 26 October 2015|