26 December 2010

NAC to service Gore and Dargaville?

While doing some research on Wairarapa Airlines I came across this quite interesting article that appeared in the the Wairarapa Times age in September 1967.

NAC Services Minor Airports

Intensive investigation into ways and means of continuing airline services into minor airports now served by NAC's ageing DC3s is being made by the Corporation and Civil Aviation Authorities. NAC has announced that it wants to retire the DC3s by December of next year and, while the Government agrees generally with this proposal, it also wants to ensure that towns at present linked by airline service retain it. DC3s were in the original fleet when NAC began operations in 1947 and remained the corporation's work horse for more than a decade. The introduction of jet-prop Viscounts and Friendships and the upgrading of secondary airports have diminished the role of the familiar DC3 in recent years. From a peak of 26, NAC's fleet of DC3’s has dropped to 11. Sentimental tears may be shed by some with the disappearance of, the old aircraft from the air lanes, but there will be little regret by accountants. While the DC3 makes a reasonable return on some sectors flown by NAC and Mt Cook Airlines, new restrictions make it totally uneconomic.

Pure jets
In any case, NAC are not interested in running a four-plane fleet. They want to concentrate on their Boeing 737 pure jets when they start arriving- next August, the five Viscounts and the 13 Friendships. The 737 jets will operate between Auckland and Dunedin and with their introduction the Viscount service will be extended to Invercargill. The Friendships will serve such provincial centres as New Plymouth, Gisborne, Napier, Tauranga and probably Auckland - Whangarei. It is outside these centres that the real problems will arise with the retirement of the DC3. To take even Friendships some of the smaller airports would need expensive upgrading which would not be justified by the traffic offering. The three areas of most concern are Northland, the West Coast and Otago-Southland. Several alternatives for each area are now under consideration and if present plans can be carried through towns in these areas should retain a service, even if it is not operated by NAC.

West Coast
On the West Coast there are several possibilities. One proposal is a new link between Hokitika and Christchurch operated by a Friendship. Hokitika has only a compacted strip and the present proposal does not envisage sealing it. Instead the odd Friendship flight will be made into Hokitika to test the strip's strength and evaluate possible stone damage to the craft's hull. If this proposal is found practical, it could result in a small plane service, perhaps operated by a private company, feeding coast passengers from Westport and Greymouth to Hokitika. Another possibility is a private company operating northwards, perhaps to Nelson or Wellington to link with NAC services. On links between Auckland, Whangarei and other Northland centres there are a number of choices being considered. One would be to seal either end of the Kaitaia runway and operate Friendship but this appears a doubtful economic proposition. Another alternative would be to retain a DC3 for two years to operate the Northland service from Auckland. This would mean there would be no Friendship service to Whangarei. A third and possibly most likely choice would be to arrange for a private operator to service Northland towns under charter to NAC. Another alternative would be to abandon the services north of Whangarei, but this is most unlikely. The Minister of Civil Aviation, Mr Gordon, is .operating a “round - Northland" service using a smaller machine. He has welcomed. the move by a private company to operate a service around central North Island towns using Cessna 402s. He hopes Masterton might eventually be included in this service. Two parties interested in operating a privately run Northland service are surveying the route. It is believed .that one operator is looking at the Norman Britten Islander, a plane very much like the Bristol Freighter with twin tail units. It can land and takeoff in 1000ft and provides a comfortable trip for eight or 9 nine passengers at 160mph. It is ideal for short stages. The service would act primarily as a feeder- to NAC at Whangarei. But should Dargaville be included, an application might be made for the service to extend to Auckland International Airport. The proposed Northland service would not only open up Dargaville but could also feed into the difficult Kaikohe Airport and into Kerikeri. lt would operate on a route Whangarei-Kaikohe-Kerikeri-Kaitaia-Dargaville-Whangarei. It would then run on the reverse route with the possibility of three or more round trips a day.

A service would.possibly require an NAC subsidy. This would be studied on the aspects of economics and the feasibility of the service but should receive sympathetic consideration. The Government is considering a similar proposal in the south. This would. operate on the Dunedin-Alexandra-Cromwell-Queenstown-Te Anau-Gore-Dunedin route. Mount Cook Airlines would, continue to operate the Oamaru-Timaru-Christchurch service on charter for NAC. While discussions these minor routes is proceeding, reports from the United States on the Boeing 737-200 have been excellent and there is no indication of any delay in deliveries. The first of the jets is due next August.


  1. "one operator is looking at the Norman Britten Islander, a plane very much like the Bristol Freighter with twin tail units."

    That doesnt sound remotely like an islander! sounds more like a skyvan if anything....

  2. Yes.... it does sound like a Skyvan. Now wouldn't that have been a site to see in NZ skies!