13 March 2016

Getting Today's Information Delivered Today - Mercury Air Couriers

Allan Prince had strong connections in the freight industry and was managing an overnight inter-city service for Brambles. Allan approached NZ Couriers with whom he had a close association with as he knew they were keen to connect their Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch courier services. Mercury Air Couriers Ltd was formed by Allan, who held a 40% shareholding in association with NZ Couriers who held 51% of the company.

The company chartered the Piper Pa23 Aztec ZK-DGT from Akarana Air and this was rebranded with Mercury Air Couriers titles. The association with Akarana Air came about as NZ Couriers and Akarana Air were co tenants in a building in downtown Auckland. Akarana Air in those days was owned and operated by Ivan Reardon and his partner Graham Veitch. Graham originally owned the plane and flew it out of South Africa to escape the political problems and to get his largest asset out of the country. 

NZ Herald - undated

From the 1st of July 1974 the Aztec inaugurated a new five-times-a-week night courier service between Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The Aztec left Auckland at 7.00pm arriving at Wellington at 8.50pm. It left for Christchurch at 9.30pm arriving at 10.45pm. The return service departed at 11.25pm arriving back at Wellington at 12.40am the company having a dispensation to take off outside the airport operating hours. After a 40 minute stop the aircraft continued on to Auckland arriving there at 3.10am. Mr Bill Davies, the managing director of the parent company, New Zealand Couriers, told the Auckland Star that the aircraft would carry documents for computer processing, including punchcards, tapes and other documents. Other freight carried was the Turf Digest race paper which was printed at Lower Hutt. It was flown from Wellington to Auckland on Tuesdays. 

Mercury Air Courier's Piper Aztec ZK-DGT at Wellington while on a courier run 

In 1975 an additional weekly Auckland-Wellington service was introduced, and in September 1976 this was increased to five times weekly.

Allan Prince went on to sell his shareholding back to the directors of NZ Couriers as they were keen to hold 100% ownership of everything so they could sell the company to an interested buyer. Allan then went on to work with the Freightways Group and set up Courier Systems. He was then heavily involved in the takeover of NZ Couriers/Mercury Air Couriers on behalf of the Freightways Group.

ZK-DGT at Tauranga

Pilots included : Graham Vetch, Ivan Reardon, Ken Leahy, Allan Prince

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