This is the second part of the history of Mount Cook Airlines. Part 1 can be found at http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.co.nz/2014/02/mount-cook-airlines-part-1-1960s-birth.html
|The replacement for Mount Cook Airlines' DH Dominies was the Britten Norman Islander. ZK-DBV is photographed at Queenstown|
|Skislander trials were held in 1974 - From the company's Annual Report to 31 May 1975|
On services from Queenstown the Islanders quickly proved their versatility and they were popular aircraft with pilots and passengers. The service from Queenstown to Alexandra and down to Dunedin, which was operated mainly by the Twin Otter, was running at a loss. Unlike other services from Queenstown the service to Dunedin was dependent more on domestic traffic rather than tourist traffic. The amount of traffic offering did not warrant the Twin Otter which was withdrawn in September 1973. The Twin Otter was an outstanding aeroplane operationally, but Mount Cook found it very costly to run, and it was replaced with a Britten Norman Islander, which had a lower capital cost.
|De Havilland Canada Twin Otter ZK-CJZ at Queenstown - "an outstanding aeroplane but very costly to run."|
|First Day cover for the Mount-Cook Rotorua service|
|From the Annual Report to 31 May 1971|
Improvements were made to Manapouri airport with the sealing of the runway and in June 1971 the company added its second Hawker Siddeley 748, ZK-DES, to the fleet. This replaced Douglas DC-3 ZK-CAW which went to South Seas Airways Ltd of Auckland. The second 748 enabled the company to operate a Christchurch-Mount Cook-Queenstown-Te Anau/Manapouri and return service while other 748 overnighted at Rotorua offering a morning service to Mount Cook and Queenstown with a late afternoon return service. The Mount Cook timetable during these years offered the possibility for passengers flying through Mount Cook a stop of some hours and enabling them time for a ski plane flight before continuing on to the next destination.
|Added to the fleet, the second Hawker Siddeley 748 ZK-DES, as seen in this stunning Mount Cook publicity shot...|
|...while Douglas DC-3 ZK-CAW, seen here at Queenstown, went from the fleet|
|A few days before starting the Golden Goose service to Paihia Grumman Goose ZK-DFC was photographed at Ardmore on 21 October 1972|
While Mount Cook Airlines were happy to get approval to operate into Auckland, there was a catch. While the Licensing Authority recognised the desirability of connections from Auckland to the tourist resorts at Mount Cook and Queenstown, NAC and Air North were already operating on the Auckland-Rotorua sector. Accordingly the Air Services Licensing Authority set conditions that the company could only carry between Auckland and Rotorua those passengers trans-shipping from same day early morning services from Paihia, and that no passengers could be picked up at Rotorua with Auckland as their final destination. In addition, no freight was to be carried between only Auckland and Rotorua and vice versa. The company was also granted an amendment to its licence permitting it to offer non-scheduled passenger and freight services between Mount Cook and Auckland.
|A day in the jumpseat, flying Christchurch-Mount Cook-Christchurch with my cousin who was First Officer.|
The third 748, ZK-MCA at Mount Cook on 18 January 1980
|A couple of nice shots showing the new terminal at Mount Cookin different conditions. Photos taken from the Mount Cook 1974 and 1976 Annual Reports|
As early as September 1974 the company was looking at upgrading to jets. At that time Hawker-Siddeley had released plans for a four-engine jet, designated the Hawker Siddeley 146. It was proposed that the 146 would carry between 90 and 100 passengers and would be capable of using of working from the company’s existing airfields. While Mount Cook was very interested in the aircraft, plans for its development never transpired at that time. Ironically, after the collapse of Ansett New Zealand, Mount Cook inherited and operated four British Aerospace 146 jet aircraft.
|Above the timetable effective 1 April 1975... the Twizel schedule is at the bottom of the page. Below, from the timetable effective 1 April 1976. Remember when phone numbers were only 3 digits long in rural areas?|
|Flightseeing was a feature on all Mount Cook's fleet|
|The third Britten Norman Islander ZK-MCC at Mount Cook on 18 January 1980. Note the revised colour scheme from the photo of ZK-DBV above and the addition of the dayglo strips|
|By 1975 Mount Cook Airline clearly was New Zealand's tourist airline|
|From the Annual Report to 31 May 1976|
|The fourth HS748 at Christchurch in January 1979 - Remember those days, when the Rolls Royce Darts screamed, when DC-10s reigned and when you could actually see an aircraft at Christchurch International?|
|Northern News, 17 March 1977|
|Being primarily a tourist airline, this was Mount Cook's first attempt at "commuter" services. The use of 748s meant these first commuter services failed but they were revisited later using 9 and 18 seaters. Timetable effective 19 August 1977|
|Retired Douglas DC-3 ZK-BEU sits at Christchurch waiting a buyer in September 1978. It later became a "Stagliner" for Alpine Helicopters before becoming a movie star, the Yankee Zephyr.|
|Still wearing its Air Pacific colour scheme, Mount Cook's fifth Hawker Siddeley, ZK-MCJ, at Christchurch in January 1980. Notice the aircraft is branded with Mount Cook Line titles.|
The 1970s saw the consolidation of Mount Cook’s tourist services offering a national network. While the 1980s were to start with the promise of great things they were also to see the company challenged in a way it would never have expected. That will be the third post of this series.