20 February 2011

Air Napier - the only airline flying to Wairoa

In April 1993 Alan Coombe, Gary Peacock and John Finlay purchased N B Macdonald Services’ Piper Seneca Pa34-200T ZK-MSL. By the following year Air Napier Ltd was formed and Gary Peacock subsequently became the sole shareholder. The Seneca continued to operate the evening Databank run from Napier to Wairoa, Gisborne and Tauranga with the aircraft overnighting at Tauranga and returning early the next morning. The aircraft was then available for daytime charter work from Napier. The Tauranga courier service only lasted a couple of months, however, as the Databank at Tauranga closed.

Above, Piper Seneca ZK-MSL in its original Air Napier colour scheme at Napier on 19 December 1993 and below, at Gisborne on 14 November 2007 in its present scheme. 

In 1997 the company expanded into flight training with the purchase of two Piper Pa38-112 Tomahawks, ZK-TAW and ZK-WAJ. Eventually Cessna 152’s became the mainstay of the training operation while a Piper PA-28-181 Archer, ZK-FIX, and at various times, Cessna 172 aircraft were and continue to be used for general charter work.

With the grounding of United Aviation in 1997 Air Napier began operating a courier run from Palmerston North through Napier and Wairoa to Gisborne in the morning with a return evening service flying the reverse route as far as Napier, the continuing to Paraparaumu before returning to Palmerston North. In 1998 Air Napier purchased Piper Pa32-260 Cherokee 6 ZK-ELK and Piper Pa23-250 Aztec ZK-JEI was also used from late 1998 till September 1999. These flights were mainly for NZ Post.

Air Napier timetable, November 1999

Above, Piper Pa32 Cherokee 6 ZK-ELK in its original scheme, at Gisborne on 9 February 2001 and, below, in the new scheme again at Gisborne on 25 November 2011. 

Pionair Direct's Piper Aztec ZK-JEI which was used by Air Napier in 1998 and 1999. Taken at Napier on 8 January 1999.
To meet the demands of this service Piper Pa31-310 Navajo ZK-DOM was added to the fleet in February 2000 and Piper Pa34-200T Seneca II ZK-WUG in October 2002.

Above, Piper Navajo ZK-NPR in the scheme it operated in for Flight Corporation taken at Napier on 8 February 2001 and at Gisborne in its present scheme on 31 August 2010. 

The timetable for the "new" service which was introduced in 2001.

In early 2001 Air Napier introduced a Monday, Wednesday and Friday twice daily commuter service between Napier and Gisborne to get an increased share of traffic on the route. The service was not successful and did not last long.

The Air Napier timetable as found on their on the 8th of November 2006. The timetable is no longer a feature of the website.

At times the freight flights between Napier and Gisborne involved two aircraft with one flying direct with the other flying via Wairoa. In September 2008 there were changes made to the East Coast courier services when NZ Post lost the last of their bank contracts to NZ Couriers. Air Napier became the sole courier freight carrier between Napier and Gisborne, with flights direct or via Wairoa, carrying both the NZ Couriers and NZ Post courier freight. Southbound, at Napier, the freight is transferred to a Sunair flight to carry it to Paraparaumu. Air Napier continues to fly passengers to and from Wairoa to both Napier and Gisborne connecting at these centres to Air New Zealand Link flights.

In addition to the East Coast passenger and scheduled freight services Air Napier continues to offer charter services, medical transfers, aerial photography and surveying, private and professional flight training and providing servicing for international private jet flights to the Hawkes Bay. In 2012 Air Napier took over the contract to convey medical staff between Napier and Wairoa. This involves a Seneca flying to Wairoa on most week days.

Over the years the fleet has included the following aircraft, the current fleet indicated in bold.

Cessna 152
ZK-EKM (c/n 15280954);
ZK-NPD (c/n 15280188)
ZK-NPE (c/n 15284064)
ZK-NPG (c/n 15284064)

Cessna 172
ZK-CHN (c/n 17251986)
ZK-ENU (c/n 17268288)
ZK-NPA (c/n 17280577)

Cessna A150L
ZK-DNO (c/n A1500448)

Piper Pa23-250 Aztec
ZK-JEI (c/n 27-2638)

Piper PA-28-181 Archer
ZK-FIX (c/n 28-7990559)

Piper Pa31-310 Navajo
ZK-NPR (c/n 31-777)

Piper Pa32-260 Cherokee 6
ZK-ELK (c/n 32-7600009)

Piper Pa34-200T Seneca II
ZK-MSL (c/n 34-7770224)
ZK-WUG (c/n 34-7970329)

Piper Seneca ZK-WUG taken at Wairoa on 23 January 2013. 
Piper Pa34-220T Seneca
ZK-NAP (c/n 34-49128)

Piper Seneca ZK-NAP arriving back at Napier on 19 August 2014

Piper Pa38-112 Tomahawk
ZK-TAW (c/n 38-78A0716)
ZK-WAJ (c/n 38-81A0058)

For a photo essay on Air Napier's service from Gisborne to Napier via Wairoa see : http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.co.nz/2012/11/air-napiers-east-coast-express.html

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