04 November 2012

First, Faster, Fresher - Air Queenstown

Air Queenstown Ltd was established by Thomas Enright in October 1994. Shortly after this move were set in place to import a Cessna Golden Eagle.

Cessna 421C Golden Eagle ZK-ZAQ (c/n 421C0060) was duly registered to the company on the 23rd of February 1995. Tim Enright, David Marriott and Andrew Moseley were engaged as pilots. The company’s early advertising promoted first class scenic flights and charter from Queenstown as well as scheduled flights from Queenstown to Dunedin and Christchurch with experienced two pilot crews.

Just what is the name of the airline? Queenstown Air as in the photo and first timetable or Air Queenstown, the company name and in the later timetable? Cessna 421C Golden Eagle ZK-ZAQ taken at Queenstown on 14 December 1995

The scheduled flights hoped to start on the 27th of March 1995. The company envisaged the Golden Eagle flying six return flights between Wellington and Queenstown each week and five return flights each week between Wellington and Dunedin. The service, however, didn’t get airborne as planned as the necessary paperwork had not been completed.

The company then looked to a 1st of May commencement date but this too was not met due to a serious engine problem being discovered shortly before the first flights. A decision was made to order a new engine from the United States. This arrived two months later and another three weeks was needed to ready the plane for service.

Is it Air Queenstown or Queenstown Air - timetable effective April 1995

Flights finally commenced on the 6th of August 1995 with the first flight operating between Wellington and Queenstown with four passengers. The Otago Daily Times reported that a second flight from Wellington was planned for the following Friday and the company planned to fly to Dunedin on Monday and Tuesday of the next week. But company director David Marriott admitted the company’s original flight schedule which promised Wellington-Queenstown flights five days a week and Queenstown-Dunedin flights three days a week, was “some way off. It will happen but we can’t go straight out and do it because we don’t have any money left,”he said. “We are trying to build it up slowly because we have to wait until we have a reasonably full plane until we fly. We have to establish a reputation.” He said all the problems had been worth it when the company finally flew into Queenstown on Sunday in gloriously sunny weather. “That was great. Things are looking very positive for the future and I’m totally confident we will build up to a fully-scheduled service.”

The Wellington and Dunedin flights were not successful and so in November 1995 Air Queenstown began flights between Queenstown and Christchurch. Eight return flights were scheduled each week. These too were unsuccessful and the service ended in the New Year and the Golden Eagle was sold in April 1996.

Timetable effective November 1995


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