10 June 2018

Kiwiair - A Successor to Air Albatross


Kiwiair was established in 1985 as the trading name of Gold Coast Aviation Ltd and announced its intention to operate daily flights to Turoa skifield from both Auckland and Wellington. The plan was to deliver skiers from the two main cities to the chairlift in 90 minutes. The cost, including road transport from the Ohakune airfield and a day pass, was expected to be just under $200.00

The company took delivery of its first aircraft, Piper PA23-250 Aztec E ZK-KWI on the 1st of December 1985 with its arrival from Sydney. With the Aztec in the country the company was in a prime position when Air Albatross collapsed at the end of 1985. Kiwiair seized the opportunity and established scheduled flights began between Wellington and Blenheim in January 1986. Four flights a day were offered on weekdays with three return flights offered on Saturdays and Sundays. The initial demand was such that the company used a second Aztec, Piper PA23-250 Aztec F, ZK-TNH. The Blenheim service was not successful, however, and the schedule was soon paired back to an early morning weekday return service before finally petering out completely. 

Kiwiair's Piper Aztecs, ZK-KWI and ZK-TNH at Wellington on 16 January 1996

Kiwiair timetable, January 1996

On the 5th of February 1987 Aztec ZK-KWI was on a charter flight from Paraparaumu to Christchurch. Near Wellington the pilot reported a minor propeller problem and requested a landing at Wellington International Airport. While approaching Wellington from the east on a visual approach aircraft descended below the height of a ridge in the southern Rimutaka Range and flew into the terrain at about 1,500 feet AMSL. The pilot and his two passengers died in the crash. 

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