Capital Air Services, which had taken over the Wellington Aero Club's commercial operations on the 1st of April 1970, first considered flying to Greymouth in October that year after the collapse of Golden Coast Airlines. While nothing came of their investigations Capital’s aircraft were no strangers to Greymouth with their Piper Aztec, BN Islander and Piaggio aircraft supporting the off shore oil exploration on the West Coast in the early 1970s.
|Leased from Australia's Motif Air, Piaggio P166 VH-GOB is seen at Greymouth on the 25th of May 1972.|
|Greymouth Evening Star 27 November 1974|
|The only Cessna 402A in fleet, at Greymouth on the 9th of January 1977. This aircraft was later used by Westland Flying Services on its Hokitika-Greymouth-Christchurch service.|
|Greymouth Evening Star 29 January 1976|
|My first photo of a third level airliner taken before Ian Coates told me "mkae sure you can see the registration!" However enough of the letters N and Q can be seen to know it is Cessna 402B ZK-DNQ. It was taken at Greymouth in 1978.|
The extension of the Wellington–Greymouth service to Christchurch meant the aircraft overnighted in Christchurch rather than Greymouth. An early 6.50am departure was made out of Christchurch with the plane arriving at Greymouth at 7.40am. After a 10 minute stop the flight continued on to Westport, Nelson and Wellington. At this time no airport on the West Coast had runway lights and so the afternoon southbound flight times were dependent on the plane being able to arrive and depart from Greymouth before the end of ECT (Evening Civil Twilight). For most of the year this meant the flight leaving Wellington at 3.00pm, with the winter flights leaving at 2.30pm. This has the plane arriving at Greymouth at 5.15pm or 4.45pm respectively. After a 30 minute stop the flight continued on to Christchurch.
|The fourth 402, ZK-EHT at Greymouth on 4th of December 1976|
Sufficient support was, however, not forthcoming. On the 15th of June 1978 the company announced that Capital Air Services would cease its West Coast services at the end of the month. Capital’s manager, Tom Wright, told the Greymouth Evening Star that the company had “used its best endeavours to provide an air service to the residents of Greymouth. Patronage has, however, not come up to expectations…. Since commencing in August last year, and considering the timetable was revised in November 1977 in response to the requests of citizens, losses on the West Coast operation exceed some $30,000.” The last Capital Air Services flight through Greymouth was operated by Cessna 402 ZK-EHT on the 30th of June 1978.
|Farewell to Capital - the Greymouth Evening Star's photo on the last day of Greymouth's "Capital" Service. Photo : Greymouth Evening Star, 30 June 1978.|
Capital Air Services - Wellington Aero Club Origins
Capital Air Services - Aero Club to Airline