As early as 1952 NAC was looking to transfer its South Westland service to a private operator. At this stage the road was still some years away from Haast and the air service pioneered by Air Travel (NZ) Ltd’s Bert Mercer, along with the shipping service from Hokitika provided Haast with its only connection with the rest of the country.
It was almost four years before Southern Scenic applied again to take over the South Westland service under the name of a subsidiary company, West Coast Airways Ltd. The company sought approval to operate;
(a) Scheduled service for passengers, freight, and mails, operating Hokitika to Haast and return, Monday, Wednesdays, Thursday, and Friday of each week:
(b) Air taxi services for passengers, mails, and/or freight from and to any of Hokitika, Wataroa, Waiho, Haast, Franz Josef, Milford Sound, and Greymouth:
(c) Joy-rides from Greymouth, Hokitika and aerodromes south of Hokitika on the West Cost of the South Island of Now Zealand:
(d) Non-scheduled passenger, charter, short flights, end excursion flights, from Hokitika, Greymouth, Wataroa, Waiho, Haast, Franz Josef, and Milford Sound, to anywhere in New Zealand:
(e) Aerial topdressing and other aerial work on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand from Inangahua Junction to Haast.
West Coast Airways used a number of Southern Scenic Air Services aircraft, particularly their de Havilland 89 aircraft, but also Cessnas, Proctors and their Anson. Three aircraft carried West Coast Airways’ titles; De Havilland 89A Dragon Rapide ZK-AHS, De Havilland 89B Dominie ZK-AKT and Cessna 180 ZK-BJY.
|West Coast Airways' De Havilland DH89A Dragon Rapide at Franz Josef|
|West Coast Airways' Cessna 180 ZK-BJY at Taieri|
|West Coast Airways' timetable of September 1958|
|Cessna 180 ZK-BJY at the Paringa River in 1959.|
West Coast Airways was conscious there were often people from Greymouth who needed to fly to South Westland and so the company applied to operate a non-scheduled service between Greymouth and Hokitika from the 1st of July 1957 using Des Wright’s Auster J/1B Aiglet, ZK-AUO (c/n 1955), as the Greymouth airfield was not licensed to take Dominies. A non-scheduled service was not approved but the company was able to operate an air taxi service between Hokitika and Greymouth to connect to the regular air service.
|Des Wright's Auster Aiglet ZK-AUO taken at Hokitika in the early 1960s.|
|West Coast Airways' timetable effective February 1962|
|Two Dominies in Southern Scenic colours being operated for West Coast Airways at Hokitika|
With the opening of the Hasst Pass West Coast Airways amended their air service licence amended by deleting their scheduled Hokitika - Haast service replacing it with a connection between Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers and Hokitika. The opening of the road to Haast and the introduction of regular bus services to Haast had eliminated the bulk of the company's scheduled passenger and freight business on the Haast-Hokitika service which formerly, on a non-scheduled basis, had served the Glaciers. In the year ended 31 March 1965 the company carried 1309 scheduled passengers and flew 456 scheduled hours. 1205 passengers were from or to Haast as was all the 43,956 lb. of freight and 36,399 lb. of mail. The Glaciers together generated only 160 passengers. Nonetheless, a service to the Glaciers seemed the best option for the company.
|After the opening of the Haast Pass schedules to Haast became non-scheduled with regular services only offered in Franz Josef and Fox Glacier. West Coast Airways'' timetable effective December 1965|
Traffic on the Fox Glacier-Franz Josef-Hokitika route, even with its connection to the NAC DC-3 service to Westport, Nelson and Wellington, was not sufficient to sustain the company. On the 20th of March 1967 the manager of Southern Scenic Air Services, Mr W Davies announced the end of the service with all operations ceasing on the 31st of March 1967.
|When the air service ended it was transferred to Queenstown and rebranded in NZ Tourist Air Travel titles. It was for a number of years stored back at Hokitika before being donated to MOTAT in Auckland. It is seen in Tourist Air Travel titles at Hokitika in the early 1970s.|