24 June 2012

VIP Air Charter and Te Kahu 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

From the 10th of February 1997 to the 3rd of September Aotearoa Airlines had reinstated a Hamilton-Gisborne service. In his book Rukuhia - The Growth of Hamilton's International Airport 1920-2000 Colin Zuppicich records, With the demise of Aotearoa Airlines Jonine Baker a Public Relations/Marketing Manager in conjunction with others employed the services of VIP Air to form Te Kaahu Airlines. (Te Kāhu is the Maori name for "the hawk" - The branding of the airline on the timetable spelt it as both Kahu and Kaahu - nowdays the macron above the "a" would be used). Using VIP Air's air certrificate and using their aircraft Te Kaahu Airlines commenced services within weeks of the finish of Aotearoa Airlines. 

The VIP Air Charter fleet at Hamilton on 2 October 1987

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. 

An undated Te Kaahu Airlines timetable

Colin Zuppicich continues, Unfortunately they too ceased operating within weeks of their start and the route was flown by VIP until they reverted back to their core business of charter flying. 

Now without the Te Kaahu branding, the service being operated by VIP Air

The service also suffered from competition from Sunair and this also helped the demise of the Te Kahu and VIP Air service.

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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