17 December 2018

Fly My Sky's Whangarei service...

Fly My Sky is one of the few New Zealand's regional airlines that I haven't flown on so while they were offering cheap fares to Whangarei I thought I would check out there new service. It turned out to be just one of those days.

I had set my alarm for 4.00am to drive to Auckland but didn''t turn it on so walk up at 4.31am for a 6.25am check in at Auckland International...  A quick shower on the road to face the Takanini road block but I managed to make it on time for check in...

There's my flight FS3069, to Whangarei

No doubt what plane we were flying in

BN Islander ZK-SFK waiting for its passengers... two of us this morning

The flight this morning was under the command of Adam - this is his front office.

The big boys getting ready for the start of their day

It's a long way down to holding point Alpha 10 for Runway 05

After a 777 and a number of Airbuses departed we got the word to line up behind the ATR

Not sure if there is enough runway for an Islander...

Motukorea - Browns Island

Rangitoto and Motutapu

Coming up on Orewa on track to Puhoi

Mangawhai Harbour with the Hen and Chicken Islands in the background

Bream Bay

Whangarei straight ahead - the question is where does the fog end

There is Whangarei in the distance

On the missed approach - the fog was right above the airport

Really frustrating as we got these lovely views of Whangarei

VFR down towards the Whangarei Heads to see if we could get under the cloud but there was no chance 

Passing the Kaipara Harbour

North Shore Airport

RNZAF Whenuapai

Approaching the Manakau Heads

One of the resevoirs in Waitakere Ranges

Finals Runway 05

So I didn't get to Whangarei, and I didn't get a photo of a Fly My Sky Britten Norman Islander at Whangarei. Maybe I'll be able to do that sometime in the future.

Thanks to Adam for the great flight!

Officially launched...

Auckland Seaplanes Announces New Waiheke-based Commercial Air Service 
"Waiheke Wings"

Auckland, 14 December 2018 - Auckland Seaplanes will operate wheeled aircraft from Waiheke Island Airfield from this week, after receiving NZ CAA approvals to establish a new commercial flight service. 

Starting with two 4-seater Cessna Aircraft for the summer, Waiheke Wings will provide scenic flights around the island and the Hauraki Gulf as well as transfer flights to many locations in the North Island including Auckland Airport. Since 2013 Auckland Seaplanes has operated from Wynyard Quarter and the Auckland Harbour Aerodrome. Currently rated the 9th highest on things to do in Auckland by Tripadvisor, The company won the 2017 New Zealand Tourism Industry Association Award for business excellence and their flights to Rotoroa Island were one of three finalists for the global award for “meaningful travel”. In the same year, the company became the 1st ISO-certified carbon zero air operator in Australasia. CEO Chris Sattler says “Our seaplanes have been flying to Waiheke Island for 5 years and we are very grateful for the welcome and support that we have received from the local community. We love to showcase the jewel in the Auckland crown with flights to Waiheke’s beautiful beaches, vineyards and restaurants. With our new base and two additional aircraft, we will be able to deepen our connection to the island and provide the visitors and residents with a new and even more convenient way to appreciate the beauty of the area from the sky. Our strong environmental credentials as a “pest-free” and carbon-zero operator and one of the first signatories to the Tourism New Zealand sustainability commitments will be applied to “Waiheke Wings.” The company will also offer premium fly-and-dine packages with the vineyards bordering the airfield as well as half- and full-day excursions to the Coromandel, Matamata/Hobbiton, Rotorua and Northland.

Blenheim has Jetstar Aspirations

Marlborough Airport only needs 78,000 more passengers using it a year to attract competing airlines into the market and drive down prices. The region has long struggled with expensive flights through its two main airlines, Air New Zealand and Sounds Air. Marlborough Airport chief executive Dean Heiford said Jetstar was "probably the most obvious" major airline contender to move into Marlborough. "We are on their radar," he said. "The problem is the proximity of Nelson, the population of Nelson and the volume of people." Heiford presented the update as part of an scheduled update on the Marlborough Airport at a Marlborough District Council planning, finance and community committee last month. He said Marlborough Airport saw about 322,000 passengers this year, a new record, and up about 22,000 from last year. Were numbers to continue on same upward trend, it would take about four years for Marlborough to hit the estimated 400,000 passengers needed to rope in more airlines. When councillor Jamie Arbuckle asked if Marlborough Airport could cope with another airline, Heiford said it could, but there would be several hurdles to cross first. "Effectively, we would have to provide them a space in the terminal, which would mean expanding and re-arranging the terminal," he said. "We'd have to look at extra apron space, because currently you can only service so many aircraft. And, depending on the volume and number of flights the airline would want to do, we would have to seriously have to start looking at what's called a parallel taxiway." The taxiway could join onto the main runway and reduce the amount of time aircrafts spent on it, increasing the number of flights. "One [aircraft] could be taxing up to take off, while the other is landing," Heiford said. Marlborough Airport chairman Richard Olliver also said unlike other airports, the Ministry of Defense owned the the land underlying Marlborough Airport, not the board. "That hamstrings the airport to some extent, the fact that we don't own the underlying land ... that restricts our ability to expand and get bigger," he said. Nelson was "quite lucky" because it was a servicing port for a lot of the New Zealand mid-range fleet, so it had aircrafts flying in and out all the time, Heiford said. "They can mark the prices accordingly, because anyone on the aircraft paying something is better than going empty somewhere," he said. Heiford said while there were other small operators that could come into the Marlborough market, they were "very sensitive" to price volumes.  Marlborough Airport chief executive Dean Heiford says Jetstar is the most obvious airline to move into Marlborough. A Jetstar spokesman said while the airline was "always open to new opportunities", it currently had "no plans to expand its regional operation". Jetstar came to Nelson in 2015 as part of its new regional network, and its arrival was a game-changer for the region as more competition meant lower fares for routes. A search of the Air NZ website showed flights to Auckland could cost between $20 to $140 more from Marlborough Airport than from Nelson Airport. Outside of the potential expansion, Heiford said both Marlborough Mayor John Leggett and the council's chief executive Mark Wheeler had held meetings with Air NZ, and broached the return of their direct flight to Christchurch. "Air New Zealand's answer was, 'OK, which region do we take an aircraft off to give you a direct flight to Christchurch?'" he said. Marlborough Airport is on its way towards seeing more airlines. "It's easier for Air New Zealand to push Marlborough people via Wellington and fill their capacity [to Christchurch] there. Doesn't seem any cheaper though, does it?" Though the Christchurch to Blenheim flight was still off the table for Air NZ, Sounds Air continued to fly the route about 17 times a week. The board was also working towards the installation of digital advertisements at the airport, which could offer a "guaranteed return" each year. It was also running an online survey following the completion of its new terminal to identify areas to improve. Marlborough Airport saw about 322,000 passengers this year, a new record, and up about 22,000 from last year. 

A very interesting article but some points I would make and questions I would ask...
  • Jetstar are not interested
  • Is Jetstar perfoming well out of Nelson??? Would Blenheim perform better or worse?
  • Air New Zealand found Blenheim-Christchurch a loss-maker so why would they want to reinstate it?
  • Sounds Air have a very popular service between Blenheim and Wellington, not to mention Christchurch and Napier and now offer a range of fares. The airport authorities don't seem to acknowledge Sounds Air. 

16 December 2018

Northern Commuter Airlines Update

Thanks to Graeme Atchinson who has added this wonderful account of his time with Northern Commuter Airlines post of earlier this month... 

My part initially was replacing Alan Ward as CFI when he left to join Eagle Air. Shortly afterward the relationship with Ansett NZ and Northern Commuter Airlines developed and I was given the choice to become Chief Pilot which I accepted. Our Manager was John Clement. 

I recommended replacing the GAF Nomad which although a turbine, did not hold passenger appeal and was slow. I was one of the original night freight pilots at Airwork NZ and was very familiar with the Chieftain and knew they had been used very successfully with Eagle Air. John was biased to the Cessna 402, however the evidence  I presented showed the PA.31 as a superior choice. 

I gave Mike our engineer a long list to identify the right aeroplane with  crew door, high speed 40 degree flaps, heavy duty landing gear. He sourced ZK-NCA from Bolivia and after removing any “white powder” traces  we stripped out the executive interior, even removing the air conditioner and plumbing plus weather radar as I identified unnecessary items to save weight! Also I had fitted a loud and clearly understood decent P.A system for passenger announcements. Additionally I had a professional looking folding stool made up so pax could easily step up onto the a/c door stairway. 

We did operate out of the Aero Club building even up to mid 1991. I was very proud of meeting Ansett’s requirement of  plus or minus 4 minutes of scheduled departure time on 92 % occasions. Impressive also when arriving at the Ansett Auckland gate with Passenger Service Attendants with brollies on those wet days, while the baggage handlers transferred baggage for those travelling onwards to WLG or CHC on the BAe 146 Whisper jets. We proudly wore Ansett uniforms, NCA was furnished with Ansett seat coverings and carpet and of course the load control and ticketing staff completed the Ansett picture. We were very professional and had an awesome team including dedicated  and friendly ground staff. We won over several passengers from Eagle Air as the Chieftain had more leg room, was quieter than the Bandeirantes and every passenger had a window seat! 

My logbook reveals I delivered NCA from Ardmore Aerodrome to Whangarei on the 15 April 1990 severely resisting the temptation of a beat up to all staff and sundry to greet me. My Airwork NZ connections allowed us to borrow Chieftain ZK-FOP supplemented with our Nomad ZK-NDB from January until NCA was purchased. Original pilots were Alan Ward, Ian Cowan, Colin Dietschin, Graeme Atchinson (CP) with Shane Thomas and Paul Mountford joining us in Feb 1990.

It should be stated that operating an airline service without a back up aeroplane was only possible due to Mike ... and his engineers at Northland Aviation making a huge commitment to servicing our plane throughout the night so it was ready the next day.

Later in 1991 Ansett NZ requested the possibility of a night service. This might sound amazing but it’s true. I note that even now in the NZ AIP NZWR AD 2- 46.1 the Whangarei runway lead-in light system was designed by myself including all instructions for night approaches, notes 1,2 & 3 for both runways word for word. I devised the placement of lead in lights and a “gate” for both runways by eye balling their locations after flying many visual approaches and marking them on a map, then had this information forwarded to the Harbour Board for them to build. After careful consideration of what to do if becoming visual after 3.0 DME but before the missed approach point, I came up with the idea of using the opposing runway lead-in lights, turn through 270 degrees to then fly downwind to the “gate” for the active runway. Amazingly it was built and approved very quickly in time for me to try it out before I left Tranzair during June 1991 to take up a once in a life time opportunity to sail the South Pacific on board a friends 38ft yacht. I am quite chuffed that this Whangarei night procedure is still used to this day.

Thanks Graeme for this really interesting insight into  the Northern Commuter Airlines' operation.

14 December 2018

The longest domestic

Air New Zealand is set to trial a first ever direct service between Invercargill and Auckland. The company's announced it plans on using its Airbus A320 jet aircraft for the route from the second half of 2019. However, the trial service will only operate five days a week. And with a flight time of approximately two hours, the new service will be the longest domestic Air New Zealand flight. It will depart Invercargill at 6am and arrive in Auckland at 7:55am.  The Auckland-Invercargill service will depart at 7:35pm. Air New Zealand Head of Regional Affairs Reuben Levermore said the community has been demanding it. "The Southland community has told us a direct Invercargill-Auckland service is important and we've been working closely with stakeholders to achieve this.  "The challenge will be for the community to support the trial of a direct service to ensure it's sustainable, and we're confident they'll do so."

13 December 2018

Jet Service to Westport?

An interesting change of registration on the CAA website, Cessna 525 Citation ZK-RJZ registered to Sounds Air. So, are Sounds Air are operating the aircraft on behalf of the operator, starting jet charter work or commencing jet services to Westport??? It will be interesting to see what transpires and whether the RJZ where the Sounds Air colour scheme or logo.  

And if my chance there is a jet service to Westport I for one would certainly try it!

UPDATE... Andrew Crawford has posted on Facebook, Didn’t change actual “Ownership”....Just operating it... Guess that means Westport won't get a jet service... meanwhile, there is an airline in the neighbourhood looking for an operator

12 December 2018

Green Light for Norfolk Island Service

Direct Auckland-Norfolk Island Service To Start In September 2019

Air Chathams is happy to report they are well along the track in gaining the required approvals and permits to commence weekly passenger flights to Norfolk Island. 

“It’s important we advise and keep our travel partners in New Zealand and Norfolk Island up to date with current activity and likely launch dates” said Duane Emeny, General Manager. “We have the required approvals from Australian Home Affairs and ANZA approvals from the NZ CAA. This allows us to operate in Australian territory under equivalent New Zealand regulations. The Ministry of Transport in New Zealand is also to provide a license for a Single Aviation Market for flights direct to Norfolk Island from Auckland.”

Regular scheduled service is planned to commence in September 2019 to allow a sufficient marketing and promotion period to drive demand. As with all airlines entering a new international market, a lead-in period long enough to stimulate demand and fill passenger flights prior to commencement is essential. Air Chathams will be working with travel agencies and wholesalers in both New Zealand and Norfolk Island to achieve this.

To cater for direct flights and high demand prior to September 2019, Air Chathams will be providing special flights for Norfolk Island festivals and sporting events working alongside local travel companies and offering discounted fares on positioning sectors. 

The airline continues to be enthusiastic in opening this route and is also upgrading their reservations systems to provide a better online service and manage immigration and customs requirements.

This development is a significant undertaking and is expected to be live and operational by the end of March 2019. Air Chathams is always conscious of retaining and continuing the quality service and consistency their reputation is built on. 

Air Chathams anticipates sales for scheduled services on the new direct Auckland to Norfolk Island route to be available from April 2019.

For more information, please contact:

Adrian Ali, Commercial Manager
M: 021 580340
T: 0800 580127
E: adrian@airchathams.co.nz
W: www.airchathams.co.nz

The Last Strike

On the 22nd and 23rd of December 1984 Air New Zealand flight attendants went out on strike in the days before Christmas. While I accept the right to strike I think going on strike just before Christmas is mean spirited and attack on families and ruining Christmas for some families that will have saved really hard to get together as family for Christmas... At this time of year flights are about families travelling. Why not strike when business people are the majority of people travelling???

However, the strike of 1984 was a bonanza for me... here are some of what I took at Christchurch on the 22nd and 23rd of December 1984 as people tried to find other means of getting to be with family for Christmas.