11 November 2012

TranzGlobal - The unlisted freight airline

TranzGlobal came into being following North South Aviation placing itself in voluntary liquidation on the 27th of June 1994. The day after that Steve Mosen, who had been North South Aviation’s chief pilot, formed a new company, TranzGlobal Holdings Ltd.

TranzGlobal took to the skies on the 4th of July 1994 using North South Aviation’s Bandeirante ZK-KML and the same air crew. TranzGlobal believed they could continue the air service North South Aviation had operated using that company’s licences and certification and so operated without their own air service certificate, operations manual and proficiency checks. On the 26th of July 1994 the Civil Aviation Authority caught up with this irregularity and it grounded the airline. The grounding was temporary, however, the CAA being quickly satisfied that the operational control and supervisory provisions were in place, and the adequacy of the documentation and Check and Training provisions and approvals. This allowed the airline to return to service the following day with its own operating certificate. CAA Director Kevin Ward told The Dominion that it was a genuine case of misunderstanding and the airline would not be prosecuted for operating without a certificate. Despite this statement a complaint to the CAA by the director of another airline operator led to charges being laid. TranzGlobal were eventually convicted and fined $500 with court costs of $95 and solicitor's fee of $100.00.

One of Tranzglobal’s first pilots was Paul Webb. He had started flying when he was 15 years old and leaving school he began trading in property, buying, selling and building low-cost housing in south Auckland. Gaining his commercial pilot’s licence he not only obtained a flying job with TranzGlobal, but went on to become a co-owner with Steve Mosen.

TranzGlobal never advertised its services. Some years later Paul Webb told the Dominion “the company went out of its way not to market itself. No listing the phonebook, no marketing material, even its aircraft were painted plain white with no operator identification. We just kept to ourselves we had no alliances or allegiances with anybody. Any arrangements we had with clients remained within the company. Not a lot of people knew what we were doing. But TranzGlobal was carrying 500,000 kilograms of cargo a month,” most of which was carried for DHL International (NZ) Ltd.

Embraer Bandeirante ZK-KML at Hokitika on a passenger charter to Hokitika for the Wildfoods Festival on 9 March 1996. In the photo above the a small TranzGlobal logo can be seen under the cockpit window. This one logo is the only TranzGlobal branding the company's aircraft ever carried. The header photo for this post is a close up of the logo on KML.

In mid-1995 a typical day for TranzGlobal saw the Bandeirante operating an early morning Auckland-Wellington-Christchurch service with a 6.00am departure from Auckland on a Monday to Friday basis. The return service left Christchurch at 5.00pm arriving in Auckland at 8.00pm. It then did an Auckland-Palmerston-North-Christchurch return service, leaving Auckland 9.10pm and arriving back in Auckland by 3.30am the following morning.

The company’s business continued to grow and on the 6th of June 1997 a second Bandeirante arrived in the country becoming ZK-TZL (c/n 110378) on the 11th of June 1997. A third Bandeirante, ZK-TZM (c/n 110328), was acquired from Ansett New Zealand who operated it as ZK-REW. It was added to the fleet on the 22nd of September 1998.

The two "new" Bandeirantes in freighter configuration... ZK-TZL above and ZK-TZM below. I always thought the Bandeirantes looked like two quite different aircraft viewed from both sides. Photos taken at Auckland on 4 October 1998 

TranzGlobal only took on contracts worth over $500,000 a year with consistent daily volumes. By targeting large volume clients the company was able to have just a few customers and, by understanding their needs, tailor services for them. Paul Webb said that “as a result the freight service was typically more expensive than the competition, but service offset the cost. The move to carry passengers followed the decision by Ansett and Air New Zealand to merge their freight businesses about two years ago to create Ansett Express. Ansett and Air New Zealand freight business involved the movement of a lot of cargo during the day because they had passenger flights with belly space. CityJet responded by quickly providing daytime freight services as well as the traditional night services.”

The company did offer passenger charter flights but the core focus for TranzGlobal remained courier and air freight work. However, after six months of flying daytime freight services TranzGlobal realised it had, in some cases, almost empty aircraft carrying some bags of high yielding freight. Adding passenger seats made better use of the aircraft and added revenue. With this in mind, in May 1999 TranzGlobal was rebranded as CityJet and introduced low-fare passenger services. 

A last photo of Bandeirante ZK-TZL before it was rebranded as CityJet. Photo taken at Auckland on 16 April 1999 


  1. Perhaps Steve it might be worth delving into why the CAA effectively killed off Tranzglobal/Cityjet. It was a fun place to work, and was upsetting the bigger domestic players which meant it had to be shutdown.

  2. The next installment in the North South Aviation/TranzGlobal series will be on Cityjet and the shutdown... I will post that 9 December, but I would love to hear any memories thoughts you have on TranzGlobal/CityJet... I am sure a lot of young pilots got their hours working for them. I would also like to just check what freight routes the airline flew. If you would like to email me my address is westland831@yahoo.co.nz - Cheers, Steve