12 August 2015

Originair - The New Cook Strait Carrier


When Air New Zealand announced its intention to withdraw from the Nelson to Palmerston North in late 2015 Robert Inglis started a process of due diligence to look at operating an air service on the route. This led to the establishment of Origin Air Ltd in March 2015. In June 2015 the company announced its intention to fly scheduled services on the Nelson-Palmerston North and Nelson-Wellington routes. Robert Inglis said, "We have been working hard since December to be ready to fly between Nelson and Palmerston North by the 12th of August 2015." 

Robert Inglis described Originair’s move as 'modest.' "This isn't Ben Hur, it's a very small operation. We own the equipment, we're not exposed to a lot of risk with exchange rates, we have operated this route and know it well.  Hopefully we're just offering Nelson people another choice." Originair's standard fares for Nelson-Wellington range $129 to $257 for a flexi fully refundable fare, and for Nelson Palmerston North from $169 to $289. 

In preparation for the service Originair opened a head office in central Nelson in June 2015 and the airline announced plans to employ up to 20 staff in Nelson and Palmerston North. Mike Curry has been employed as general manager and Shawn Hansen as Customer Service Manager. A new check-in facility and two counters were opened in the Nelson Airport terminal shortly before services commenced.

The company also undertook a major refurbishment of British Aerospace Jetstream 31 ZK-JSH (c/n 838) that is owned by Inglis Aircraft Ltd. This has included a repaint in “grey and citrus.” Originair gave Nelson-based National Aircraft Interiors the contract to custom design the seats and parts of the interior of the aircraft along with RepairCraft who perform line maintenance on the fleet.

Originair's spectacular looking BAe Jetstream 31, ZK-JSH, at Wellington on 30 July 2015
The interior of ZK-JSH

Because of the small scale of the operation Originair has contracted Air Freight NZ Ltd to carry out flight operations including air crew while Fieldair Engineering Ltd (Fieldair) are carrying out the fleet maintenance.  

Originair commenced daily return services between Nelson and Palmerston North on the 12th of August 2015 with ZK-JSH operating the first flight to Palmerston North, OGN101, and the return flight to Nelson OGN102. On the flight deck were Captain Dion McMillan and First Officer Richard Fraser. The first flight was greeted at Palmerston North with a water cannon salute by the Airport Fire Service. Passengers were greeted Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith and Palmerston North Airport chief executive David Lanham.

The first flight, Originair 101, arrives at Palmerston North. More photos and reporting at

While initially twice daily weekday flights were planned the service began with twice daily return flights offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with a return service being operated on Sundays. The company hopes to increase to a six day a week service on the route over the summer.

The first Nelson to Wellington return service was operated on Sunday the 13th of September 2015 with BAe Jetstream 31 ZK-JSH operating OGN 203 into Wellington arriving into the capital at 2.13pm. The return flight OGN204 left Wellington at 3.00pm. In the week that followed BAe Jetstream 32 ZK-ECI entered service with Originair. Originally twice daily weekday return flights were planned with a single return service on Saturdays and Sundays, however, the revised schedule saw twice daily return flights on Mondays and Fridays with a single return flight on Wednesdays and Sundays. A return Saturday flight began in November.

Timetable downloaded from the Originair website, 8 August 2015

For a pictorial review of an Originair flight see:

British Aerospace 32 Jetstream ZK-ECI on the taxi at Nelson for an Originair flight to Palmerston North on 24 January 2018

From the 1st of February 2016 Originair suddenly ceased operating its Jetstreams and Inflite Charters were contracted to operate Originair's services using Fairchild Metroliners. There was a lot of speculation as to the reason for this change but the Civil Aviation Authority were certainly involved.

On 30 March 2016 Originair ceased flying with the last flights being flown between Nelson and Palmerston North before the Inflite Metroliner positioned back to Auckland. The company's website showed all Nelson-Wellington and Nelson-Palmerston North flights as "unavailable" or "fully booked" but reservations being available on a restricted timetable from mid-June.  Robert Inglis was reported as saying Originair expected imminent advice that the one or two issues with the CAA had been sorted out and it would begin flying again.

Originair remained grounded for some months before they resumed services on the 23rd of September 2016 using air2there aircraft. In the months following air2there operated the four times weekly direct service between Nelson and Palmerston North with Piper Chieftains and the Cessna Grand Caravan being used.

Originair resumed Jetstream operations on the 30th of June 2017 with BAe Jetstream 31 ZK-JSH operating the Friday afternoon flights, OGN 3215/3216 from Nelson to Palmerston North and return, using the callsign AIR2THERE 7.

The airline inaugurated a new route between Nelson and New Plymouth on the 29th of September 2017. The first flight was operated by BAe Jetstream 31 ZK-JSH under the command of Captain Warwick Wild. The airline operates four flights a week between the two centres in addition to its four flights a week between Nelson and Palmerston North. After the first week of operations Originair chief executive Robert Inglis said the new service was performing to expectations. "It will take two to three months to get consistent support but at the moment it is performing well." 

The first flight at New Plymouth on 29 September 2017. Photo Source : Originair Facebook Page

The New Plymouth schedule

On the 28th of September 2018 Originair commenced new services between New Plymouth and Napier and from the 1st of October 2018 between Palmerston North and Napier. Both the services operate as an extension from flights to and from Nelson.

When announcing the New Plymouth to Napier route Robert Inglis had said, “The airline has been asked to operate this direct service since we commenced operations to New Plymouth last September.”

The first service was operated using Air Chathams Metro 23 ZK-POF on the 28th of September 2018 after air2there, the operator of Originair's Jetstreams, seemed to be withdrawn from the skies.

The service operates on Friday and Sunday afternoons to allow weekend travelers an easy option when visiting the Hawke’s Bay region. Flights will operate on Fridays and Sundays as follows;

Depart New Plymouth: 2:10pm - Arrive Napier: 3:00pm
Depart Napier: 4:00pm - Arrive New Plymouth: 4:50pm

On the 1st of October 2018 Originair were to introduce direct return flights from Palmerston North to Napier each Monday and Wednesday. In announcing the flights the airlines' Marketing Manager, Holly Parata, said “With the Manawatu Gorge road now closed and the Saddle Hill road construction likely to cause travel delays in the next few years, a range of travelers will find this service beneficial. These flights will offer business travelers a Monday morning flight to and from Napier and over five hours in the Hawke’s Bay region each Wednesday with a 9:40am departure, returning to Palmerston North at 4:30pm. Flights were to operate as follows;

On Mondays
Depart Palmerston North : 9:40am - Arrive Napier: 10:20am
Depart Napier: 11:10am - Arrive Palmerston North: 11:50am

On Wednesdays
Depart Palmerston North: 9:40am - Arrive Napier: 10:20am
Depart Napier: 4:00pm - Arrive Palmerston North: 4:40pm

The flights between Palmerston and Napier never commenced due to the grounding of air2there.

After the opening of the Napier service, and with air2there, the operator of Originair's Jetstreams grounded, the company have chartered Air Wanganui and Skyline Aviation to maintain their schedules. Air Wanganui's Beech Super King Air, ZK-MDC, has been the aircraft primarily used for the services. However, Air Wanganui's Beech King Air ZK-MKG has also been used along with Skyline Aviation's Cessna 510 Mustang ZK-YDZ and Beech Super King Air ZK-MFT.

Air2there's grounding created further problems for Originair and it flew, what was to be its last flights for some months on the weekend of the 30 November-3 December 2018. The company's website show reservations for services that were going to start on 19th of December 2018, the 22nd of February 2019, the 22nd of March, the 12th of April, none of which happened and then Jetstream services from the 1st of May. Easter services were operated between Nelson and Palmerston North, New Plymouth and Wanganui on the 18th and 22nd of April using Air Wanganui's Beech Super King Air ZK-MDC. Further flights were operated in September and October 2019, again by ZK-MDC.

With their operator grounded Originair then started the long task of gaining its own Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

After a year of not operating regular services, Originair resumed scheduled operations on the 29th of November 2019. BAe Jestream 31 ZK-JSH operated flight OG3215 from Nelson to Palmerston North and from Palmerston North to Nelson. The company also announced it would recommence New Plymouth and Napier services once the new terminals are complete and new ground handlers have been found for their flights. Previously Swissport, which handled the Jetstar services, serviced the Originair flights.

In a press release on the 29th of November 2019 Originair announced that This week the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand issued a Part 125 Air Operator’s Certificate to Nelson-based airline Originair. “We are very pleased to receive our Air Operator’s Certificate as this provides a sound foundation for our future and security for our customers,” said Originair’s CEO Robert Inglis. “Since 2015 we have operated our services through contracted arrangements with other AOC holders however it’s now time to base the next phase of operational development on our own Air Operator’s Certificate. Originair will operate its own Jetstream aircraft independently from 29 November 2019.”

Timetable, effective 29 November 2019 with four flights a week offered between Nelson and Palmerston North
On the 16th of January 2020, following the withdrawal of Jetstar from Nelson, Originair announced it would recommence flights between Nelson and Wellington in response to passenger. The airline had flown this route in 2015-16 but had pulled out after Jetstar had introduced Nelson to Wellington flights.  In announcing the flights Originair’s CEO Robert Inglis said, “Our customers have been asking us to consider a Nelson-Wellington route and we’re really pleased to be able to respond to that interest. We’re not offering an extensive schedule at the outset but we hope that it will provide extra capacity at times that are most useful to travellers on that route,” says Inglis. The announcement of the Nelson-Wellington route comes after very consistent and encouraging demand for seats on the airline’s newly-resumed Nelson-Palmerston North service. “We are very happy with the way that the reintroduction of our Palmerston North service has been going,” says Inglis. “Demand has been solid and that gives us additional confidence to grow our service offering.”

Originair's BAe Jetstream 31 ZK-JSH landing at Nelson on a flight from Wellington on 16 March 2020

The Nelson-Wellington flights resumed on the 14th of February when BAe Jetstream 31 ZK-JSH operated flight OG5216 from Nelson to Wellington and the return flight OG5217. The Originair schedule from the 14th of February shows four return flights from Nelson to Palmerston North each week and five return flights from Nelson to Wellington.

Originair's timetable with the new flights effective 14 February 2020


  1. How do you fit a turbocharger to a TPE331 to make it a "turbo aircraft"?

  2. i believe repaircraft has been contracted by feildair not origin air.

  3. While in pursuit of my golf ball around the outskirts of Nelson Airport last Monday 2/5 I noticed ECI performing some type of stationary run for several minutes.

  4. ECI flew from Nelson to Palmerston North on Friday 6 May, maintenance?