24 June 2012

VIP Air Charter and its Te Kahu Airlines

My thanks to Bruce Gavin who has compiled this post on VIP Air Charter and Te Kaahu Airlines.

VIP Air Charter Limited was established at Hamilton by G. Misson, the owner of Innovative Engineering Ltd of Cambridge, in 1991. The Company flew air charter services from Hamilton with first Piper Pa23 Aztec ZK DGT (c/n 27-3437) which was joined in March 1993 by Piper Pa31-350 Navajo Chieftain ZK VIP (c/n 31-7405482).

The company also operated Piper PA-32-260B Cherokee Six ZK-DBP (c/n 32-1117) between May 1993 and March 1994 and Cessna 337 Super Skymaster ZK-DFT (c/n 33700176) between October 1996 and September 2000 but neither of these aircraft wore VIP Air Charter titles or the Innovative Engineering logo that was a feature of both the Aztec and the Chieftain.

In the early years the aircraft were sometimes used by Eagle Air to fill in on passenger services as well as to fly engineering staff on Eagle's behalf from their Hamilton base to other centres when required. In 1995 VIP AIR became involved with Kiwi International in forming Kiwi Shuttle. This was to fly linking services from Gisborne and New Plymouth to Hamilton to connect with Kiwi's services to Australia using an Embraer Bandeirante. In the event the operation lasted for only a few months at the end of 1995 and flew only to New Plymouth twice daily from Hamilton using VIP's existing aircraft.

Piper Aztec ZK-DGT at Hokitika on 8 April 1996
Piper Pa31-350 Chieftain ZK-VIP at Hamilton on 15 December 1993

Te Kahu Airlines was established in 1997 and operated by VIP Air to fly the Hamilton to Gisborne route which had previously been flown until 3 September 1997 by Aotearoa Airlines. (Te Kāhu is the Maori name for "the hawk" - The branding of the airline on the timetable spelt it Kaahu - nowdays the macron above the a would be used)

The VIP Air Charter fleet at Hamilton on 2 October 1987

Te Kahu Airlines started flying soon after. Flights were flown twice daily (morning and evening) on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. This allowed Hamilton people almost 10 hours in Gisborne and Gisborne people over 7 hours in Hamilton. Later a Friday service was added. 

A couple of undated timetables - the one above with Te Kaahu branding - the one below without

The service, however, was not well advertised and gradually petered out. 

Details about Te Kahu Airlines are fairly sketchy... I was not able to find any newspaper references to it... If anyone has start and finish dates for the service I would be most grateful. Please email me at westland831@gmail.com  Thanks, Steve

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