01 May 2011

Capital Air Services - Aero Club to Airline

In 1970 the Wellington Aero Club had reached the decision that it needed to separate its Club and commercial activities and so on the 1st of April 1970 Capital Air Services took over Wellington Aero Club’s commercial operations. In October that year the company was looking at the possibility of taking over Golden Coast Airlines and newspaper coverage reported the company having five aircraft. Two twin-engined aircraft, Piper Aztec ZK-CEU, and Piaggio P166B ZK-DAI were operated for charter and on an airline basis, while the others, a Beechcraft Musketeer, ZK-DAD, a Piper Cherokee and an Airtourer, all single-engined planes, were employed on visual flights. A decision was made not to take over Golden Coast Airlines.

For a post on Capital Air Services' Wellington Aero Club origins see...

Taken over from the Wellington Aero Club... Piper  Aztec ZK-CEU seen here at Wellington

A front angle view of the gull shaped wings - Piaggio P166 ZK-DAI at Greymouth on 7 October 1971
A rear view of DAI showing the pusher engine configuration taken at Wellington on 13 January 1973

At this early stage Capital Air Services were primarily operating charter flights but on Saturdays and Sundays their aircraft were used to carry weekend newspapers from Wellington to both Blenheim and Wellington using their air taxi licence. The Piaggio had been added to the fleet as the original Piper Aztec was unable to cope with all the charter requests. In addition, the Aztec did not have the payload available for the newspaper contracts at the weekends. 

In July 1971 a trial seven-day a week air-freight service between Wellington, Nelson and Blenheim began in conjunction with Peters Delivery Service. This again, operated under Capital Air Services' air taxi licence. The Dominion reported, The service uses a twin-engined Piaggio aircraft with a 500lb freight capacity and combines with a pick-up and delivery service to each provincial centre with a fleet of 21 vehicles. The sales manager of Peters Delivery Service in Wellington, Mr R. D, McColl said today the aircraft initially was to leave Wellington daily at 6am, call at Blenheim and Nelson, and be back in the capital at 9am. "Goods ordered in Wellington as late as 4.30pm today can be delivered at the Nelson customer's door by 9am tomorrow," he said. The daily, seven-day a week service would improve further when a contract now being negotiated would require the aircraft to make two trips daily. 

Following the success of the trial the company began a regular service on the 21st of September 1971, still using the air taxi licence.  In the same month the company was granted a licence to operate non-scheduled services on Saturdays and Sundays for the cartage of the weekend newspapers across Cook Strait as follows;

In February 1972 Capital Air Services went to the Air Services Licensing Authority seeking a non-scheduled licence for the weekday flights. In evidence presented at the hearing Peters Parcel Service's witness stated that his Company accepts parcels in Wellington up to 5pm for an 8am delivery next morning at Blenheim and Nelson. At present his Company carries on this service on a charter basis under Licence No.573 (the air taxi licence). In addition to the parcels, Peters Parcels Service have secured the contract for the Dominion Newspapers and one other regular line of goods. The daily poundage (of newspapers, parcels and goods from the "regular line") was stated to be up to 2600 lbs. The service leaves Wellington at 6am and arrives at Blenheim approximately 6.30am and Nelson about 7am. On the return flight the plane returns direct from Nelson to Wellington. The main goods conveyed on the return flight are confectionery which averages 1900 lbs. per day. The aircraft at present in use has a capacity of about 2000 lbs. On occasions it is supplemented by a second aircraft, also on charter under Licence 573. Further evidence suggested the possibility of flying baker's and refrigerated goods from Blenheim to Wellington. There was also the suggestion the “Evening Post” newspapers might be diverted from NAC to Capital Air Services because of the unsuitability of NAC's timetable at some periods of the year and the possibility of Data Bank forwarding its material to the Wellington Computer Centre instead of to the Christchurch Centre. Objections were received from NAC and NZ Railways who both said there were adequate NAC and Rail/Air services operated by Safe Air. The Licensing Authority agreed with the objectors stating, In view of the present losses being sustained on the rail/air services and of the fact that existing services cater adequately for all classes of goods and urgent parcels (including frozen goods and bakery goods) we find that the applicant failed to prove necessity for the unlimited rights which it sought. Accordingly the application is refused. Nonetheless, Capital Air Services continued to operate the air service under its existing charter and air taxi licence.

With much activity in the off shore exploration for oil and gas reserves during the 1970s Capital Air Services won at various times contracts to supply air services to the oil exploration operators. To service these contracts Capital Air Services leased, at various times, Cessna 402A VH-ELT, Piaggio P.166B VH-GOB  and Piaggio P.166C VH-FSC.

Piaggio P.166 VH-FSC which was leased by Capital Air Services. Photo taken in Australia

Leased Piaggio VH-GOB at Greymouth on 7 October 1971

Leased Cessna 402 VH-ELT taken at Mascot in 1970.

Despite the early morning service to Nelson being primarily a freight flight some passengers were also carried on the morning when weight and space permitted but passengers were certainly carried on the return Nelson to Wellington sector. This increased following NAC's announcement in May 1972 NAC that from the 6th of June it no longer intended overnighting a Friendship in Nelson and was thereby discontinuing its 7.20am flight from Nelson to Wellington. Capital Air Services saw this an opportunity for it to pick up more passengers on its 7.30am flight from Nelson to Wellington. Captain Murray Turley, the chief pilot for Capital Air Services announced the master agent for bookings in Nelson was to be Nelson Tourist Services Ltd.  He also said that the company did not plan a return afternoon flight to Nelson because N.A.C. had a 6.45pm flight from Wellington which reached Nelson at 7.25pm Piaggio ZK-DAI was allocated to this service.

The growth on the Cook Strait service and the high maintenance costs of the Piaggio P.166B, however, led it to being replaced in February 1973 by leased Britten Norman BN-2A-3 Islander ZK-DKNThe trial of the Islander proved that it was not suitable either and so in 1973 the decision was made to replace it and the Piper Aztec with two Cessna 402s. Cessna 402B Utililiner ZK-DNQ was registered to Capital Air Services on 12th of July 1973 and replaced the Piper Aztec ZK-CEU which was sold in September 1973. The BN Islander left the fleet the month before in August 1973. 

BN Islander ZK-DKN at Greymouth on a charter on 22 March 1973.

In mid 1973 Capital finally obtained non-scheduled licence No. 696 for non-scheduled flights between Wellington-Blenheim-Nelson-Wellington and Paraparaumu. This enabled frequencies of flights between Wellington and Blenheim and Wellington and Nelson to increase. 

The Cessna 402 proved to be a good workhorse for Capital Air Services. The Dominion of the 29th of October 1973 carried an account of Capital Air Services' Dominion service...

How does a newspaper establish an air service? Other than as a user of aircraft there appears to be little in common between two such undertakings. But tucked away in a remote corner of Wellington Airport is the base of a rapidly growing air service that newspapers have been largely responsible for establishing. The story of its development as an aero club owned company is one of those aeronautical sagas that frequently give aviation happenings such a wide interest. Every morning, before any of the major airlines are showing much interest in the new day, a small aircraft owned by Capital Air Services Ltd may be heard taking off. So quiet is the operation that only those living close to the airport notice its departure. This service was established primarily for, and depends on, Wellington newspapers for its existence. Here is a typical weekday routine. At 3.30am somewhere between six hundred pounds and half a ton of The Dominion is dumped in the porch of the company's over-night air crew accommodation. 

The duty pilot, who frequently sleeps in the overnight quarters, comes on duty shortly after 5am. He first checks over the partly completed aircraft "load-sheet" and notes the weight and position of air-cargo loaded the previous night. He collects the loading trolley from the hangar and loads the papers left on his back porch noting the various destinations on the bundles so that those for Blenheim and those for Nelson and points beyond are loaded into separate baggage compartments in the aircraft's nose. He checks to see if there are any "early bird" passengers in addition to the one already waiting. If any space remains he examines the stack of 'filler freight', always waiting in the hangar and decides the bundles that can be taken on this first flight. He completes the "load sheet", making sure the loaded aircraft will be within the weight and balance limits laid down. The aircraft is checked for fuel, to see that the amount on board complies with that shown on the "load-sheet." The passenger gives a hand to push the aircraft out to the "warm-up" line. The pilot turns to the telephone to get the latest on Cook Strait weather and to lodge his "flight plan" with the control tower. The passenger gets on board. After engines are started and preliminary pre-flight checks made the aircraft moves out to the run way “holding point", where flight checks are completed and engines run up to check full power. 

Capital Air Service's first Cessna 402, ZK-DNQ, at Wellington in December 1973

It is now 6am as noted on the aircraft clock, as the slight thump of the retracting undercarriage is felt during take-off. We are airborne for our first stop at Blenheim, and we listen to the latest news on the passenger radio. I try to read the complimentary copy of "The Dom" which had been thoughtfully placed on my seat before I came on board. It is a perfect mild spring morning. Away to the south the snow peak of Tapuaenuku thrusts through the early morning mists into the crystal air above. As we approach the Wairau River bar, landmark in the life of the scow Echo, whose fame in the Solomon campaign in the last war will long be remembered, the calm spots of reflection on the sea are starting to be ruffled in the first puffs of the morning breeze. Ahead the airport runway is visible as we pass over Blenheim which seems to be still sleeping at this early hour. 

It is 6.20 as we taxi up to the waiting van for the early paper deliveries. A lone news boy arrives and collects the papers for his air station news round. The Dominion contractor doing the Blenheim deliveries checks his papers, and at 6.30 we are once more airborne, for Nelson, over the morning mist in which most of the hills of the sounds are covered. There is a fleeting glimpse of Havelock as we pass over this centre of the recent scallops fishing squabble and almost before there is time to take in the morning beauty of the region there is Nelson with its port and sprawling hill suburbs. Fifteen minutes from Blenheim and we are trundling up to the Nelson old terminal building, where a news van, a freight van, and a young woman are waiting to receive us. It is just 6.45am, as unloading of the main paper delivery and the cabin full of freight proceeds. As the newspaper delivery driver loads his van he tells me he only does the Nelson and Richmond rounds, drops the papers for Motueka and Takaka at the bus depot. 

The young lady is checking the inward freight onto the van and preparing the required paper work. She hands over the checks of the two passengers bound for Wellington. This being Monday, there is no outward freight normally left overnight at the airport. It seems that most of the inward-bound freight consists of light bulky cartons of everything from electrical goods to even the kitchen dishwasher. As this efficient young lady completes her paperwork the passengers go aboard with another pilot bound for his job at Wellington, and we are airborne for Wellington at 6.55. 

This time as we cross over the mist-shrouded sounds the odd bump announces that the morning sun is already dispersing the early mists. As we cross over Tory Channel a small fishing boat is putting out to its daily chore in Cloudy Bay, while between Terawhiti and Sinclair Head the puffs of the rising breeze can be seen contesting the tide in the notorious rip. As we approach Wellington Airport there is still no sign of other air traffic, but a lone tanker is passing the nemesis of the ill-fated Wahine at Barrett’s Reef. As we land we are directed to gate nine to discharge our passengers and refuel from the waiting tank wagon. A disembarking passenger, in reply to my query, tells me that this flight from Nelson is the only one that makes an early enough connection - with NAC flights to get to Auckland and back the same day. I look at my watch. It is still only 7.20, plenty of time to get home for breakfast. 

Freight being unloaded at Nelson from a Capital Air Services' Cessna 402 after the arrival of the early morning newspaper and freight flight. Source : Nelson Evening Mail, June 1976

In April 1974 Capital Air Services Ltd applied to increase its seat capacity by deleting one Airtourer and a Musketeer from its fleet, and substituting a Cherokee Six and a Grumman American AA-5 Traveller.
Cessna 402B Utiliner ZK-DSG was registered to the company on the 16th of May 1974.  

A busy Cook Strait commuter... Capital Air Services' timetable effective 16 April 1974... 

Despite an extended operation life was not easy for Capital Air Services. The September 1974 issue of NZ Wings reported that Capital Air Services had an operating profit of $226 last year, compared with a $39,037 loss the year before. The company's capital indebtedness to the Wellington Districts Aero Club was reduced over the year from $49,507 to $35,716.  

In late 1974 Capital Air Services announced its intention to extend its routes beyond Cook Strait by taking over Rex Air Charter's twice weekly service from Paraparaumu to Westport and Greymouth which was operated by their Cessna 337 and a Cessna 207 aircraft. Rex Air Charter wanted to pull out of the West Coast service, which it operated on a charter-taxi basis, because it was unwilling to commit its aircraft to the route full time. In making its application to operate the route Capital applied to have Rex's Cessna 337, ZK-DRO, added to its licence as a back-up aircraft. 

The new Capital service saw an aircraft overnighting at Greymouth and then flying an early morning service departing Greymouth at 7.15am and after stops at Westport and Nelson arriving in Wellington at 9.30am. A return service was flown in the late afternoon with the flight leaving Wellington at 4.00pm and arriving in Greymouth at 6.20pm. The flights cost $30 from Greymouth (with a same day concession return fare of $55) and $23 from Westport ($42.50 concession return). On Saturday the aircraft departed at 11.30am and arrived in Wellington at 1.45pm. The aircraft returned to Greymouth on Sunday afternoon on the same weekday timetable. The new service enabled West Coast people to do a reasonable business day in Nelson or Wellington, thought in winter the morning flight left later and arrived back in Greymouth earlier. 

The first flight was supposed to operate on the 2nd of December 1974 but as no passengers were booked the service began on the 3rd. Within two weeks the Greymouth Evening Star was reporting flights between Greymouth and Wellington are being well patronised. Most of the seats on the Cessna aircraft which flies from Greymouth six mornings a week are being occupied and, although the northward flight is the more popular, passengers are being flown south on most days

Meanwhile, in the background, Capital Air Services were continuing to battle with the Air Services Licensing Authority. It had applied to have its non-scheduled Wellington-Blenheim-Nelson licence authorisation amended to permit scheduled services. This would have given the effect of enabling Capital to base its fare structure on its own costings rather than the flat NAC fare plus 10 per cent. However, the Crown Law Office was of the opinion that the non-scheduled licence was void, as the Authority had issued a new licence to the company without holding a public hearing. So a temporary non-scheduled licence was issued to Capital while it applied to have its original charter licence amended to permit scheduled services between Wellington-Blenheim-Nelson. At the same time it applied for a further amendment to the charter licence to permit the non-scheduled Wellington- Nelson-Westport-Greymouth service.  

Capital Air Services' first Cessna 402, ZK-DNQ at Greymouth on a charter on 25 February 1974.

On the 3rd of February 1975 Capital Air Services took over the Nelson-Palmerston North route which NAC had relinquished the year before. Murray Turley, Capital Air Services'  general manager told the Nelson Evening Mail he hoped four passengers each way a day would use the service in the beginning. When NAC were operating the service it carried 11 passengers each way a day and it was hoped to build up to that number. The service, which costs $36 return, leaves Nelson at 11.45am and departs from Palmerston North at 1.15pm every Monday to Friday. There is no flight on Saturday. On Sunday the flight leaves Nelson at 2.30pm and returns from Palmerston North at 4.15pm

A second Cessna 402 joined had the fleet. ZK-DHW, which had been leased from Dalhoff & King Aviation (which had bought Rex Air Charter), was later bought by Capital Air Services and registered to the airline on the 14th of July 1975.

Cessna 402A ZK-DHW with Rex Air Charter and Capital Air Services' titles at Greymouth

On the 1st of December 1975 the Wellington Aero Club sold Capital Air Services. Two Nelson businessmen, Stan Carter and Richard Jenkins, bought a 40% interest in the company with the balance of 60% being bought by James Aviation Ltd of Hamilton. Coverage in the Nelson Evening Mail reported that, The firm at present employs six pilots operating two shifts a day from 5am to 8pm. Mr Carter said the company was operating three eight-passenger Cessna 402 aircraft, with one on contract to Bocal, the oil exploration firm at present operating in New Zealand waters. The present manager, Mr Murray Turley, Wellington, would retire at the end of March and would be replaced by a member of the James Aviation team. The airline had been under-capitalised and in difficulty for a period, he said, but with a fresh injection of capital he was confident that services could be improved and expanded. The registered office of Capital Air Services will be shifted to Nelson. 

Capital's general manager, Mr M. C. Turley, said yesterday that the airline had grown too big for the club to handle. "The airline had simply outgrown the club and it needed more backing than the club could provide," he said. The club had been negotiating "for a good many months" to relinquish its control of the airline which it formed four years ago. "There have been no hard feelings at all with regard to the situation that has arisen," he said. Capital Air owns two Cessna 402 aircraft and has a third on lease from Rex Aviation, Auckland.

On the 1st of February 1976, almost a year after starting the service to Westport and Greymouth, Capital Air Services introduced Christchurch to its network with direct flights to both Greymouth and Blenheim. The Blenheim to Christchurch return service operated in the middle of the day while the Greymouth to Christchurch service saw the Cessna 402 overnight in Christchurch. At 6.50am Monday to Friday, and at 8.00am on Saturdays it would fly across the Alps to Greymouth and then fly north to Westport, Nelson and Wellington arriving in the capital at 9.50am on weekdays and 11.00am on Saturdays. The return Sunday to Friday service left Wellington at 4.00pm to arrive in Christchurch at 7.35pm. At this stage the airline was also running three direct flights between Wellington and Nelson and two between Wellington and Blenheim each weekday.

In 1976 NAC rationalised its services including withdrawing from the Hamilton-Wanganui route. The Air Services Licensing Authority granted Capital Air Services permission to pick up this route and operate Palmerston North-Wanganui-Hamilton services linking in with its Palmerston North-Nelson-Westport-Greymouth services but declined its application to operate a Christchurch-Timaru-Oamaru service and a Wellington-Wanganui-Hamilton-Auckland service. The airline was, however, authorised to replace the Cessna 337 on its licence with a Cessna 402. Subsequently Cessna 402B Businessliner ZK-EHT was registered to Capital Air Services on the 3rd of November 1976.

Services to Wanganui and Hamilton started on the 5th of July 1976 with the weekday flights leaving Palmerston North at 10.40am and Wanganui at 11.10am. The return service left Hamilton at 12.55pm. The flights also operated on a Sunday to a later schedule. The new service did not prove to be successful, especially given the middle of the day timetable and the fact that Eagle Air operated a morning and afternoon service on an air taxi basis at times more suited for business traffic. In the first two months the airline reported a load factor of 22.9% in July and 36.8% in August. To try and counter the Eagle Air traffic Capital Air Services tried a second service on the Nelson-Palmerston North-Wanganui-Hamilton route. This left Nelson at 3.30pm and the plane overnighted at Hamilton. The second service was not successful and was discontinued from the 1st of January 1977. The Blenheim-Christchurch service had also been dropped by the end of 1976.

As well as daytime passenger services, Capital Air Services also offered regular dedicated night time freight flights and these operated from Wellington to Christchurch (once nightly) and Auckland (twice nightly).

In early 1977 James Aviation bought full control of Capital Air Services after negotiations the previous November with the two Nelson shareholders. James Aviation's earlier investment had helped the airline. The March 1977 issue of NZ Wings gave a good look at the airline. In the latest load figures released, some interesting trends have shown. For example, in December 1975 1,001 passengers were carried, while in August 1976 there were 1,998. Revenue flying hours in the same period jumped from 262.1 to 609.2. The four Cessna 402's (three 402B's and one 402A) operated by the company have proved highly successful, being capable of operating out of Wellington's worst weather. It is reasonably common in winter to see the 402's operating out of Wellington when some other operators are sitting it out. The Cessna's main drawback is that with the major routes proving so popular with the travelling public the aircraft is becoming too small for such routes as Palmerston North/Nelson and the West Coast run. Consequently, a study has been made of replacement aircraft, with emphasis on all-weather capability, high speed performance, passenger appeal, and convertibility from passenger to freight configuration in a short time. Some of the aircraft considered have been the GAF Nomad, Beech 99, Cessna 404 Titan and the Short Skyvan, while others have still to be evaluated. Ten full-time and four part-time pilots are employed by Capital Air Services and are managed by chief pilot Tom Wright, deputy chief pilot Dave Bevan and chief training pilot Bruce Chegwidden. Operations are handled by Tim Norman and the marketing and publicity by Bill Bowers. 

Cessna 402A ZK-DHW at Greymouth on 15 March 1976.

The height of the Capital network with flights stretching from Hamilton to Christchurch. Timetable effective 1 December 1976

In April 1977 Capital Air Services moved its base from Wellington to Nelson with the maintenance of the 4 Cessna 402 fleet moved to P. M. Lacy Ltd. But downsizing was also coming. In May 1977 the contract for the nightly freight charters between Wellington-Christchurch and Wellington-Auckland was terminated. About the same time the Hamilton-Wanganui-Palmerston North route was also cut.

Capital Air Services' reduced timetable before shutdown, effective 1 May 1977

On the 29th of June 1977 the Wellington Aero Club, which held a debenture on Capital Air Services Ltd, placed the company in receivership and the aircraft were grounded. The following day James Aviation Ltd's chairman, Ossie James, said in the Nelson Evening Mail, the shutdown was a direct result of NAC's failure to buy an interest in Capital. "This company has been built up from the ground and now has withered on the vine as a result of a lack of decision," said Mr James. "We've been extremely frustrated by the very protracted negotiations with NAC." Mr James is in Nelson today to meet staff who will be .out of work because of the shutdown of Capital. "There are some very loyal staff here. It is not their fault that the airline has to close." Mr James said the "opposite side" of the coin will be revealed when James Aviation makes a press statement after a meeting of company directors in Hamilton on Tuesday. "To have a situation where in the fifth month of operations all .is well and in the sixth month of operations it is not needs some explaining. " Asked about the future Mr James said: "Capital Air Services is closed. It is as simple as that. "However, I'm still hopeful that a third level airline can be operated successfully in New Zealand." NAC general manager, Mr D. A. Paterson, this morning confirmed that the corporation has been negotiating with James Aviation for a share in Capital. Speaking from Greymouth, a town that now has no airline, Mr Paterson said: "James Aviation could be a little frustrated with the delays. "The original idea was that we get together and buy shares in Capital Air Services. "We have been seeking approval to go ahead with such a deal from the Ministry of Transport since last April." Mr Paterson, who is making a driving tour around the South Island, said there-is-a definite need for a small airline in New Zealand. However, NAC has no intention of getting into the third-level airline business." He said NAC has no plans to replace the services closed by the shutdown of Capital.

On the 18th of July Ossie James was reported as saying there was a chance that the airline could start up again.  He said a lot of work had been done by Capital's financial advisers in trying to find where the difficulty had occurred. Further discussions had been held over the weekend on what was involved in the company continuing to run services, particularly to the West Coast and Christchurch, but finality had not yet been reached. A service would have to be viable before it could be started, Mr James said. The company was doing its best to restructure on a basis where activities would be financially successful, he said. "We have so much expression of goodwill from all the users and a great deal of understanding of the company and its difficulties that it has made us all the more determined to try to do something." 

By the end of July a restart had been confirmed with charter services commencing on the 8th of August 1977 and scheduled services on the 15th of August 1977. James purchased the debenture from the Wellington Aero Club and the fined down operation continued to operate as Capital Air while tenders were sought by the receiver for taking over the operation as a going concern. Westport was the only centre that had its service withdrawn while other frequencies were reduced. The Greymouth service saw a morning Wellington-Blenheim-Greymouth-Christchurch service with a return service in the afternoon. This did not suit business travellers the way the earlier schedules had with the travelling time between Greymouth and Wellington taking almost five hours. Two flights were scheduled between Nelson and Palmerston North Sunday to Friday with a single Saturday service. There were two direct weekday flights between Nelson and Wellington each day and one from Blenheim with a reduced weekend schedule. 

Capital Air Services' reduced timetable after restart, effective 15 August 1977

Repainted Capital Air Services' Cessna 402A ZK-DHW at Greymouth on 9 January 1977

Ten days after the restart of the airline the Nelson Evening Mail reported Capital's "loadings have been very good, particularly on the Palmerston North and Cook Strait route," says manager Mr Tom B. Wright. He said the Palmerston North service of "away in the morning and back at night" is a favourite for families while the Wellington flights are mainly used by businessmen. Capital's main improvement has been in passenger transport and not freight. The West Coast loadings are beginning to improve despite the new timetable set by Capital. Formerly people from Greymouth were able to leave in the morning for Wellington and return in the evening. "But that service was only marginally profitable," Mr Wright says. "We have given the Coast an air service and it is now up to them to use it." ...The airline is still in the hands of a receiver but is being managed by its owner, James Aviation Ltd, of Hamilton. James Aviation chairman, Mr O. G. James, says Capital will persevere with the "marginally profitable" Cessna 402s until the airline gets itself back on its feet. When that happens the eight-seater twin-engined planes will be replaced by 15-20 seaters which Mr James predicts will be able to operate much more profitably on the "third-level airline" operation. Meanwhile, in October 1977 it was reported that Capital Air Services (in receivership) owed creditors some $820,000. 

Meanwhile, from the 21st of November 1977 Capital Air Services changed its Greymouth service. In an attempt to rebuild the Greymouth service Capital Air Services' chief pilot-manager, Captain Tom Wright told the Greymouth Evening Star, that as a result of research and developments of business on the West Coast the timetable had been re-arranged to further its objects of providing a feeder-line service to tie in with other airlines' services. Part of the effect will be to allow Coasters to spend reasonable time in main centres without having to pay for overnight accommodation. On three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, flights will leave Greymouth at 7.30am for Wellington via Nelson, arriving in the capital at 9.30am. On those days a return flight will leave Wellington at 3.30pm and arrive at Greymouth at 5.30pm. On Tuesdays and Fridays a morning and afternoon service will operate from Greymouth to Christchurch and return. The aircraft will leave Greymouth at 7.15am and arrive in Christchurch at 8.05am. It will take off again at 8.30am, arriving in Greymouth at 9.30am. The afternoon service will leave Greymouth at 4pm, arriving in Christchurch at 4.50pm, then return at 5.20pm, arriving back in Greymouth at 6.15pm. 

Cessna 402B ZK-DSG at Greymouth in 1974. 

The timetable effective 30 January 1978 showed cuts in frequencies to the Cook Strait services. At the same time the airline was put up for sale. Three of the four 8-seater Cessna 402s operated by Capital and most of its remaining assets were offered for public tender. A joint receiver for Capital, Mr W.J. l. Cowan, said the airline will continue to be managed by James Aviation of Hamilton. He says all services will continue as scheduled, Mr Cowan says the decision to sell the airline was made because "somewhere along the line the thing had to be resolved - it couldn't continue in receivership for ever." Mr Cowan says the airline - earlier estimated to be worth $411,000 - can either be bought out completely or in separate lots. "Our job as receivers is to get the most we can - so if we are going to get a better price individually for planes and other assets than for the lot we must consider that. “We can't sell Capital as a going concern and - transfer the licences but anyone tendering could make the licences a condition of the tender," Capital's manager, Mr T. B. Wright, said staff learned of the possible sale of the airline yesterday and were told to "not concern themselves with their jobs.” "All it does is make the ownership of the airline in doubt." Mr Wright feels Capital will only be sold as a "job lot" as an individual plane operating on one route would be unlikely to make a profit. And to obtain the route licences that Capital holds an operator must use Cessna 402s - as this is stipulated in the licence. "It is possible the whole thing could be split up but it would be pretty unwieldy." Mr Wright says the owner of the fourth Cessna, on hire to Capital, is happy to consider hiring the aircraft to any new operator. James Aviation Ltd, of Hamilton bought Capital Air Services Ltd in mid-March 1978. 

In mid June 1978 it was announced that Capital Air Services Ltd was to change its name to James Air on the 1st of July 1978. At the same time the Greymouth services would end. "Repainting the aircraft and ticket changes will be done gradually after the name change," Capital's manager, in Nelson; Mr T. B. Wright, said. Capital's name change follows James Aviation's policy of naming its passenger divisions James Air while sticking to James Aviation for its better-known agricultural business. 

Capital Air Services flew its final services on the 30th of June 1978. 

For more on Capital's services through Greymouth see:

Aircraft Used by Capital Air Services Limited included:

BN Islander
ZK-DKN Britten Norman BN-2A-3 Islander (c/n C278) - Leased

Cessna 337
ZK-DRO Cessna 337G Super Skymaster (c/n 337-01590) - Leased from Rex Flying School, Paraparaumu

Cessna 402
VH-ELT Cessna 402A (c/n 402A-0075) - Leased
ZK-DHW Cessna 402A (c/n 402A-0065)
ZK-DNQ Cessna 402B (c/n 402B-0222)
ZK-DSG Cessna 402B (c/n 402B-0559)
ZK-EHT Cessna 402B (c/n 402B-0340) - Leased from Dennis Thompson International Ltd

Cessna 402 ZK-EHT at Greymouth on 4 December 1976

Piaggio P.166
VH-FSC Piaggio P.166C (c/n 414) - Leased
VH-GOB Piaggio P.166C (c/n 400) - Leased from Motif Air Ltd
ZK-DAI Piaggio P.166B (c/n 410)

Piper PA23 Aztec
ZK-CEU Piper PA23-250 Aztec A (c/n 27-217)
ZK-DHB Piper PA23-250 Aztec (c/n 27-2735) - Leased 

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