31 July 2016

The sun sets on Eagle's Gisborne service

A big thanks to Matt Dyer for recording and sending in these great photos of the last Eagle Air flight in and out of Gisborne. Matt writes...

Please find the images attached that I took of the final Eagle Airways flight out of Gisborne, NZ2237 to Wellington.

Eagle Airways is a 100% owned subsidiary of Air New Zealand, and two years ago it was announced that Eagle Airways was to close, with the airlines' fleet of Beechcraft 1900D to be sold and slowly taken out of service with Eagle Airways. Services were to wind up completely by August 27, 2016. Eagle Airways has been operating in Gisborne since 1988.

Cities like Gisborne had their Eagle Airways services replaced with larger, more economical Q300 aircraft, that could carry more passengers, and operate at a lower cost per seat, which meant that airfares could be decreased with the larger aircraft.

A few cities that Eagle served lost services altogether, these included Whakatane, Kaitaia, Westport and more recently Wanganui.

The Gisborne to Wellington route was one of the final Eagle Airways routes, with Palmerston North to Hamilton and Wellington the only surviving routes until they are replaced with Air Nelson Q300 aircraft in August.

The recent changes with Eagle Airways and Air Nelson have also meant that almost all the regional cities in the Air New Zealand network no longer have resident flight attendants and pilots, meaning all of Air NZ's pilots and flight attendants are from Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, and stay overnight in hotels in the provincial centres.

I hope this gives some background for the story. Eagle Airways was a solid team of aviation professionals, and with such a solid service to Gisborne over the recent years, and the airline will be missed in our provincial centres.

Yes, they are a great airline Matt... I too am sorry to see them go!


  1. That information is incorrect;

    Air New Zealand Group employ pilots and cabin crew in Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, New Plymouth, Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch.

    1. Several hundred staff are employed in Nelson.

  2. I used to baggage handle for Eagle in WRE. We went from 11 return flights a day (inc 2 to WLG) with the B1900 to 4 return flights with the Q300 a day now. I always thought the high frequency was great for travellers as opposed to greater capacity and fewer flights. The terminal is being extended now to accommodate more seats, but fewer passengers overall. I feel like it is a step backwards and hope a 2nd level airline returns to WRE to pick up some slack.
    Saturday this week only had 2 return flights! How is that better?

    Sad to see Eagle go!

    1. WLG never ever made a dollar. Too far with the beech, the fares were just too unpalatable and the aircraft not favoured for such a long trip. I asked many people on the AKL flights, why not direct? First answer, Koru club, second answer price, fhird answer, don't like the beech.

    2. You could see it as backward.
      However the larger aircraft have resulted in lower fares making air travel more than just a businessmans consideration. It has been proven in other centres where the beech has been removed that both capacity and frequency do increase as demand, driven by lower fares and greater awareness increases. E,g AKL-TRG, GIS, ROT and BHE.

      Places that despite the atleast 25% reduction in fares has occurred and low beech-like loadings have remained will be under close watch no doubt.

  3. Watched it fly over Napier last night around 17:05hrs and it was nice hearing it fly over and seeing the golden sunset light up the BeechCraft one last time. Will miss hearing Eagle Air fly over

  4. Actually i will be pleased to see the end of these Beech craft, i would fly to Gisborne via Auckland so that i would not have to get on these planes, they cramped, no leg room and as mentioned elsewhere expensive to buy tickets on, This aircraft was not designed to work on long flights.
    So pleased to see Q300's on the WLG /GIS route