20 March 2019

20,000 people later and two more flights

Six Months And 20,000 People Flying with Air Chathams

Air Chathams has hit the six month mark for its Kāpiti – Auckland route after starting services on the 20th August 2018. The Kāpiti Coast community has welcomed the airline with open arms. Initial flight schedules have settled after initial trials of flights that had not been offered previously to gauge the community’s appetite for those services. Air Chathams is flying 26 flights a week, 7 days a week and as expected the most popular flights are the early morning flight to Auckland and return evening service to Kāpiti Airport to cater for business travellers. During those first six months, the Kāpiti Coast community has backed the airline with 911 flights flown for the period, carrying approximately 20,000 people. Initial discounted fares attracted many to the airline and the average price for a fare for the first six months of operating is under $140 each way. Positive feedback and comments have reached Air Chathams through Facebook reviews and comments and Duane Emeny, General Manager, is happy with how the service is developing.

Source : Air Chathams Media Release

And now there are more flights coming...

Air Chathams' Facebook page have announced they are putting on more flights. "Flights in and out of Paraparaumu are proving popular for the weekends so we need more seats. As a result Air Chathams' is trialling two extra flights starting Saturday 27th April." The additional flights will be operated by Saab 340 aircraft.  

Auckland to Paraparaumu, flight number 3C654, leaving at 2:30pm arriving at 3:55pm.

Paraparaumu to Auckland, flight number 3C657, leaving at 11:00am on arriving at 12:25pm.  

On the 24th of December 2018 Air Chathams cut the weekday morning Auckland-Kāpiti Coast and late morning Kāpiti Coast-Auckland flights. These flights were introduced  based on Air Chathams' Whanganui and Whakatāne schedules. However, they were flight timings not previously offered by Air New Zealand and the uptake was poor so they were discontinued. It will be interesting to see if these are reintroduced in the future as Air Chathams continues to bed its service 

New Marlborough Machines

Thanks to Matthew for these photos of two new Marlborough-based aircraft

Gippsland GA8 Airvan is going into service for Pelorus Air. Photo taken at Omaka on 19 March 2019.

Newly arrived Pilatus PC12 VH-YWO. It flew from Wellington to Omaka as Sounds Air Oscar on 12 March 2019.
Photo taken at Omaka on 19 March 2019.

16 March 2019

Standing with Christchurch

The tragic attacks from Christchurch have shocked me as they have shocked the nation.

Let us remember in solidarity those who were injured and killed, for their families and for all those who have traumatised by the event in Christchurch.

A sad reality of many of the Muslim community in New Zealand is that came here escaping violence and war.

Now that violence and wanton disregard of human life has followed them here.

Let's remember that hateful talk leads to hateful actions.

Instead let us talk words of peace so that our nation maybe a land of peace

15 March 2019

Sunair's Winter Schedule

Sunair has announced the resumption of flights between Gisborne and Tauranga and/or Hamilton. The flights will operate two return flights on Thursdays and Fridays.

At the same time the frequency of flights between Whangarei and Tauranga and/or  Hamilton  have been reduced to one return flight on Thursdays and Fridays.

The frequency of flights between Tauranga and Whitianga and/or Great Barrier Island have been reduced to one return flight on Fridays and Sundays.

The new schedule is effective from the 1st of April 2019.

14 March 2019

Ghost Air

Yet again Originair has delayed the restart of operations...

On the 10th of December 2018 this blog reported that no Originair flights were operated over the previous weekend and no flights could be booked for flights until the 19th of December. 

Then, on the 21st of December 2018 this blog reported that no flights had been operated on 19th...

On the 15th of January 2019 this blog reported that the resumption of services had been pushed out to the 22nd of February.

On the 13th of February this blog reported that the resumption of services had been pushed out to the 22nd of March.

Originair's website is now taking bookings for flights on and from the 12th of April 2019. No statement has been made on the company's website or Facebook page about these delays. 

However, in a move than indicates something might be happening Originair's BAe Jetstream 31, ZK-JSH, did fly to Palmerston North on Tuesday the 5th of March 2019.

12 March 2019

Pilatus Number 6

Flying across the Tasman on Saturday was the ex Australian Royal Flying Doctor Service Pilatus PC12 VH-YWO.

Today it flew from Wellington to Omaka as SOUNDS AIR OSCAR (SDA O).

Sounds Air currently operate 5 Pilatus PC12s, ZK-PLS, PLT, PLV, PLX and PLZ

Newly arrived Pilatus PC12 VH-YWO. It flew from Wellington to Omaka as Sounds Air Oscar on 12 March 2019.
Photo taken at Omaka on 19 March 2019.

11 March 2019

Associated (and others) on the Chathams

Thanks to Hugh Rennie for sending through the two photos and others of aircraft at the Chatham Islands... Hugh writes, These are from 1990 and show Association Aviation aircraft which we chartered to take board members and others to the Island for meetings during the establishment of the Chatham Islands Enterprise Trust.  The first photo of Cessna 402 ZK-DSB dates from mid-1990 and shows the Cessna 402 having top-up fuel. The second photo of Cessna 421 Golden Eagle ZK-DCN was in September 1990 when one of the persons travelling was the then MP for Lyttelton Dr Peter Simpson (suit and beard). The other person in that photo was a shipping expert Mr George Ritchie.

There are more of Hugh's photos that he has sent me at the following links...

The aircraft at the Chathams for the opening of the current Tuuta airport...

Safe Air's Bristol Freighter ZK-CRK at Hapupu aerodrome

Air Charter (Christchurch)'s Piper Aztec at the Chathams

10 March 2019

Dorniers Over Hawkes Bay - Astral Air Services' Tranzair Operation

Astral Air Services Ltd was formed on 29 April 1987 as a wholly owned subsidiary of S. M. Andrews and Associates Ltd who, among other company activities, were the Dornier agent for New Zealand. Astral Air Services were keen to introduce German-built Dornier aircraft to New Zealand and with Ansett New Zealand seeking to develop regional feeder services Astral approached Ansett to explore the possibility of operating regional routes under Ansett New Zealand’s Tranzair brand. The approach met with a favourable response and to assist the development of the new airline Ansett New Zealand’s David Squires was appointed as the company’s chief executive. As well as Astral Air Services operating an airline service they were also contracted to take over the oversight and management of the entire Tranzair franchise including the Cook Strait services operated by Rex Aviation and the Whangarei service operated by Northern Commuter Airlines. At this time Bell Air and Waterwings also flew under the Ansett umbrella but retained their own names.

Astral had no financial links with Ansett and so it was an ambitious project for the company to bring three new Dorniers into the country with a value of some $17 million. The company’s first two aircraft were 19-seat Dornier Do.228 Series 212s, ZK-TRA and ZK-TRB. These aircraft were ferried to New Zealand from Munich via Athens, Luxor, Muscat, Dubai, Bombay, ­Madras, Phuket, Singapore, Bali, Darwin, Mount Isa and Brisbane and they arrived in Auckland on Anzac Day, the 25th of April 1991. 

A publicity postcard of Dorner 228-212, D-CDOB, which became ZK-TRA

The Dorniers were powered by two Garrett TPE 331 engines and Astral Air Services’ chief pilot Frank Roach described the aircraft as "very manoeuvrable, light on the controls and very responsive." The Dornier was a fast, high wing aircraft which gave passengers good views. But they were unpressurised and for a centre like Napier which was used to pressurised aircraft this did not garner passenger appeal. The aircraft also STOL capability for airports with short runways but this feature was not needed for the services to and from Napier. Maintenance was provided by Rex Aviation in Wellington.

Tranzair's first two Dornier 228 Series 212 aircraft, ZK-TRA (above) and ZK-TRB (below).
Photos taken at Ardmore on 6 July 1991

Scheduled services began on the 5th of May 1991 with Ray Hector and Alan Thrower flying ZK-TRA from Auckland to Napier as ASTRAL 511 and returning to Auckland as ASTRAL 512. Meanwhile, ZK-TRB under the command of Rick Moloney and Gerry Brown operated from Wellington to Napier as ASTRAL 512 and from Napier­ to Wellington as ASTRAL 515. Initially four return weekday flights were operated each weekday between Napier and both Wellington and Auckland with three weekend flight.

Astral Air Services' Tranzair timetable with the initial schedule effective from the the 5th of May 1991 and the expanded schedule from the 3rd of June 1991

A third aircraft, a smaller 15-seat Dornier Do.228 Series 101, ZK-TRD, arrived at the end of May 1991. It had been the intention of Astral to provide services connecting Napier and Wellington with the Chatham Islands. On 30 May 1991, ZK-TRD operated a Wellington-Napier-Chatham Islands on a route proving flight. The following day the aircraft flew the reverse route. Nothing came of the Chathams plan.

With ZK-TRD in service the frequency of flights was increased from the 3rd of June 1991. The new schedule saw six weekday return flights between Napier and Auckland with four return flights on Saturdays and Sundays. The new schedule between Napier and Wellington had six weekday return flights timetabled. On Saturdays four flights were flown from Napier to Wellington with three return flights. On Sundays four flights from Napier to Wellington and five return flights were offered.

However, the service did not grow as expected. On the 20th of June 1991 a report to the directors of Astral Air Services indicated the company was in such serious debt that Astral ceased services on the 26th of June 1991. The final flights operated on that day were for ZK-TRA, ASTRAL 532 from Wellington to Napier, for ZK-TRB, ASTRAL 528 from Wellington to Napier and ASTRAL 527 from Napier to Wellington and for ZK-TRD ASTRAL 529 from Auckland to Napier and ASTRAL 528 from Napier to Auckland. The aircraft all then ferried to Ardmore before their return to Germany.

Tranzair's smaller  Series 101 Dornier 228, ZK-TRD at Ardmore on 6 July 1991

At the time of Astral's failure Peter Bullick was Ansett New Zealand's National Manager Passenger Services with responsibility for all Airport ground handling activity (engineering excepted) on the Ansett and Tranzair network. Peter writes, I recall getting a midnight call from Ansett's then Chief Executive, Garry Smith, asking me to drive through the night from Auckland to Napier, find myself a motel and sit by the phone for further instructions. The phone went around 7.00am with Garry telling me to get to the airport and, well, protect our interrests. It was a bit chaotic. People who were owed money had gotten wind of the foreclosure and were trying, variously, to either recover or secrete equipment etc. Things kicked up a notch when the first Air New Zealand aircraft (ironically a 737) arrived with creditors from as far away as Christchurch. Creditors made claims to the order of $2.145 million. Prominent among the creditors were Flight Care of Napier, the Park Royal in Wellington, Rex Aviation (to the tune of ($675,450.20), Diners Club International, Dornier Luftfathrt and Wellington Airport. 

On speaking about reasons for the airline’s collapse Astral Air Services’ chief executive David Squires blamed a failure by investors to front up with promised money and also that Astral had been crowded out of existence by Air New Zealand, Air Nelson and Mount Cook Airlines putting on extra services through Napier. In addition to these reasons Brian Lockstone, Ansett external relations manager, told NZ Wings that the establishment costs were very high, "in excess of budget. An airline needs tremendous resources and resilience at first. It didn't generate the volumes of traffic that were expected.” Part of the reason for this was undoubtedly the choice of aircraft. The Dornier was chosen because Astral was the agent, rather than choosing the right aircraft for the route. Hawkes Bay passengers were used to pressurised aircraft with cabin crew on flights to Auckland and Wellington. Astral’s unpressurised Dorniers cruised at 10,000 feet for up to an hour did not give passenger appeal, especially in inclement weather.

In the aftermath of the collapse of the 53-day airline Ansett once again took over the operational control of Tranzair.

08 March 2019

Jetstar's Otago Changes

Jetstar is dropping its poorly performing Wellington to Dunedin route in favour of increasing flights between the capital and Queenstown. The airline has announced it will suspend its three weekly return flights between Wellington and Dunedin with the final service on Wednesday May 29. But it will increase flights between Wellington and Queenstown as it adjusts its New Zealand schedule to match market demand.  Jetstar's chief customer officer Catriona Larritt said the airline regularly reviewed its schedule to ensure its frequency aligned with when customers wanted to fly, and Queenstown was a major drawcard for both domestic and international tourists.  "Jetstar re-entered the Wellington-Queenstown route 12 months ago with three services a week and from late October this year we'll double that to six return weekly services," Ms Larritt said. The three additional Wellington-Queenstown services  available for booking from Friday afternoon will include sale fares from $35 one way, and regular lead-in fares from $84.  Larritt said Jetstar's Auckland-Dunedin schedule of eight return services a week was unchanged, but she said the Wellington-Dunedin flights had not performed to expecations.   "We've been operating on the route for nearly three and half years and we've appreciated the support we've received from local travellers and airports, however the route has not performed as we'd hoped."  Passengers with bookings beyond 29 May will be contacted within the coming days and offered alternative services via Auckland or a full refund.

04 March 2019

Extended Kaitaia Schedule Commences

Barrier Air commenced its new schedule between Auckland and Kaitaia today. Barrier Air have increased their flights to the northern centre by 6 flights a week giving Kaitaia a daily service. The first of the new flights was operated by ZK-SDC flying from Auckland to Kaitaia as GB615 and the return flight from Kaitaia to Auckland as GB616. Barrier Air's CEO, Nick Pearson, told 3rd Level NZ, "The additional flights have been met with real positivity in Northland and bookings are tracking as planned." 

Barrier Air's Kaitaia schedule is listed below...

Route                       Flight       Dep        Arr

Kaitaia-Auckland GB612 0650 0755
Auckland-Kaitaia GB615 1100 1205
Kaitaia-Auckland GB616 1240 1345
Auckland-Kaitaia GB619 1815 1920

Kaitaia-Auckland GB612 0650 0755
Auckland-Kaitaia GB619 1815 1920

Kaitaia-Auckland GB612 0650 0755
Auckland-Kaitaia GB615 1100 1205
Kaitaia-Auckland GB616 1240 1345
Auckland-Kaitaia GB619 1815 1920

Kaitaia-Auckland GB612 0650 0755
Auckland-Kaitaia GB615 1100 1205
Kaitaia-Auckland GB616 1240 1345
Auckland-Kaitaia GB619 1815 1920

Kaitaia-Auckland GB612 0650 0755
Auckland-Kaitaia GB615 1100 1205
Kaitaia-Auckland GB616 1240 1345
Auckland-Kaitaia GB619 1815 1920
Kaitaia-Auckland GB620 1935 2040

Auckland-Kaitaia GB615 1100 1205
Kaitaia-Auckland GB616 1240 1345

Auckland-Kaitaia GB615 1100 1205
Kaitaia-Auckland GB616 1240 1345
Auckland-Kaitaia GB619 1815 1920

An Aztec coming to a town near you???

This from Sunair's Facebook page...

With the warmer weather winding down and the cooler weather on it's way, our Winter flight schedule will soon be released. Keep your eyes peeled for a few changes to come. P.S - We're adding another town for you to travel to and from. Any guesses where this might be? 🤔🛩

East Coast Passenger Services Locked In

Following a four-week “soft launch” running passenger flights between Gisborne and Napier, Air Napier has finalised its regular schedule, with six flights a week between the two cities locked in. Air Napier chief executive Shah Aslam said two flights a day would now operate every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with flights leaving Napier for Gisborne in the morning and a return flight setting out from Gisborne in the early evening. “That’s where the demand was during the soft launch. There was a lot of positive feedback but most of the bookings we received were centred around Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It also means that if they go down on Tuesday they can stay overnight and get a flight back to Gisborne.” Mr Aslam said there had been solid demand over the soft launch period, with between 18 to 20 flights averaging about 80 percent occupancy. “We received a lot of positive feedback and that’s what it’s all about. These flights are not only about saving time but increasing productivity in Gisborne.” Mr Aslam said with companies spending up to $1000 a day per staff member on road travel, accommodation and food, the flights would also keep money in the Gisborne economy. “Take 1000 people across several years — that’s $1 million.” Chief operating officer Mike Brown said the airline had also picked up a lot of additional charter work from Gisborne companies wanting to fly elsewhere in the North Island. The Gisborne business community has definitely been affected positively. For example, a transport company needed to charter a flight urgently to fix a truck. Without a flight that meant that truck would have been out of action for 48 hours. That’s the efficiency this sort of service brings in.” Mr Brown said the airline also expected positive spin-offs from Air New Zealand’s new cheaper regional passenger flights to Wellington and Auckland. Mr Aslam agreed that Air New Zealand’s announcements last week were all positive for Air Napier. “If anything I think Air New Zealand should reach out to people like us and work with us to connect people better.” The timetable for the month of March is on the Air Napier website and people can directly book from there.

Air Napier's freight and passenger schedule is listed below...

Gisborne to Napier @ 5.00pm

Napier to Gisborne (FREIGHT ONLY) @ 6.00am
Gisborne to Napier @ 8.00am
Napier to Gisborne @ 4.00pm
Gisborne to Napier @ 5.00pm

Napier to Gisborne (FREIGHT ONLY) @ 6.00am
Gisborne to Napier @ 8.00am
Napier to Gisborne @ 4.00pm
Gisborne to Napier @ 5.00pm

Napier to Gisborne (FREIGHT ONLY) @ 6.00am
Gisborne to Napier – Thursday @ 8.00am
Napier to Gisborne - Thursday @ 4.00pm
Gisborne to Napier - Thursday @ 5.00pm

Napier to Gisborne (FREIGHT ONLY) @ 6.00am
Gisborne to Napier - Friday @ 5.00pm

Napier to Gisborne (FREIGHT ONLY) @ 6.00am

01 March 2019

Air Vanning to Golden Bay

From a single workhorse to an expanding fleet of light aircraft, local scheduled air service provider Golden Bay Air has recently increased capacity to meet growing demand. Their brand new $1.2 million eight-seat single-engine GA8 Airvan, which had its maiden flight just a few weeks ago, is already clocking up the hours flying passengers on all the routes. "We bought this larger plane primarily for our local services between Nelson, Takaka and Karamea, as well as our scenic flights over Golden Bay," says co-founder Lisa Sheppard. "Our aim was to schedulise the routes and use the plane to full capacity rather than making multiple trips in smaller aircraft. But we've also been using it to fly passengers in from Wellington as well." With adventure tourism on the rise and many great walks booked up months in advance, interest in other walks like the Heaphy Track and the Old Ghost Road is growing. Mountain bikers are also interested in these tracks and the company can carry up to six bikes into Karamea. "We're attracting tourists who want to get off the beaten track and discover the real New Zealand, and Golden Bay has exceptional scenery that few people get to experience," says Lisa. It is fitting that GB Air has partnered with local not-for-profit organisations Ekos and the Rameka Forest Carbon Project to enable passengers to offset their emissions and help reforest and protect Golden Bay's 91 Ha indigenous forest. "In our view, climate change is a local problem and should be solved locally," Lisa says. Lisa and partner Richard Molloy started their unique operation in 2006 flying passengers between Wellington and Takaka with their six-seat single-engine Saratoga. Since then, they've added a four-seat Piper Archer and a six-seat twin-engine Piper Seneca that can fly in tougher weather using the GNSS instrument approach procedure they invested in for Takaka Aerodrome. The pair have been working hard with the Nelson Regional Development Agency as well as attending TRENZ in an effort to bring people into Golden Bay; particularly those who are time poor but have money to spend on day trips and personalised tours. Their aim, says Lisa, is to boost this high-value tourism market in Golden Bay. "We've put together some fly-cruise day and multiday tours where we bring people across from Nelson or Wellington, fly them on our morning scenic flights, then take them to Te Waikoropupū Springs and into Takaka for lunch. If overnight, they can take one of our rental cars. We then shuttle them to Totaranui to catch a scenic cruise to Nelson. We've been doing quite a few of these already through the inbound tourism operators," she says. "The demand is there, and we are poised for growth. But there is a lot to do to take the business to the next size up. Attracting specialist aviation operations management staff to Golden Bay is one of our challenges, and we're working hard with an international aviation agency to help us find the staff we need for the next stage of development. "You have to be extremely dogged to run an aviation service in NZ," she laughs. "We're into our 14th year and we love it. It's fantastic to provide something that people need." 

To see the photos see : http://www.gbweekly.co.nz/the-gb-weekly-news-archives/1-march-2019/#1-march-19/page6-page7

Golden Bay Air's Airvan at Wellington on 25 February 2019

The Ups and Downs of Flying to New Plymouth

While Air New Zealand has dropped its fares to and from New Plymouth, Jetstar, its biggest domestic rival, has cut the number of flights to the city. This week the national carrier announced it was immediately cutting entry level airfares by up to 50 per cent on 41 domestic routes in what was described as the airline's biggest pricing shake-up in more than 10 years. The move resulted in some fares to and from Wellington or Auckland being reduced to $39 one way, while some flights to and from Christchurch have dropped to $49 each way. Meanwhile Jetstar has announced it's cutting the number of weekly return flights from Auckland to New Plymouth from 14 to nine starting in May but would still be offering competitive fares on the route, which is currently priced from $29 one way.  "We will be making the most of the opportunity to grow the number of visits to Taranaki," Holdom said in a statement. "Being able to get return fares to Auckland and Wellington for $80 and to Christchurch for $100 is also great news for the people of Taranaki as it puts us closer to both holiday destinations and business opportunities without blowing the budget." Holdom said he had spoken with Air NZ about how to leverage the opportunity the reduced fares represented to grow the region's tourism economy as air travellers were the kind of visitors who would help grow business and employment opportunities. "With Venture Taranaki and Air NZ collaborating with the PRIP (our airport company), we can grow the high value visitor market to help our rapidly growing tourism sector." A Jetstar spokesman said the airline closely monitored its markets and seasonally adjusted its schedule to match when customers wanted to fly. "We've reduced some of our regional flying in autumn and winter this year to align our capacity with seasonal demand in quieter travel months." He said in the summer peak travel season Jetstar offered 14 return flights a week between New Plymouth and Auckland, which would continue during the peak school holiday periods between May and September. "Outside the holidays we'll operate a daily return New Plymouth-Auckland service with an additional return service on Friday and Sunday (nine return services a week.)" The airline would continue to offer competitive fares on the route with fares currently on offer from $29 one-way, he said. Other regional routes would also operate an off-peak schedule from May-September, with between two and three fewer weekly return services than last winter outside the holiday periods.

Jetstar have also reduced flights to Napier, Nelson and Palmerston North over the winter period

Titled ATR

Thanks to MRC Aviation, http://mrcaviation.blogspot.com/, for these photos of Air Chathams' ATR 72 ZK-MCO which now carries Air Chatham's titles behind the cockpit and and a Tauck Tours logo at the rear of the aircraft. Photos taken at Auckland on 28 February 2019

27 February 2019

Did it fly???

Did it fly??? Peter from Nelson has respondded to my post on the 24th that ZK-JSH "was reported as departing to Palmerston on the 23rd but it is doubtful if the flight took place as it was parked in its usual spot next morning and has not moved since."

Maybe Flightaware got it wrong... certainly it had a funny arrival time so it maybe just a glitch in Flightaware's systemm

25 February 2019

A Couple of Trips to Wellington

I've had a couple of trips to Wellington over the last couple of weeks...

I was delighted to get today Golden Bay Air's Gippsland Airvan ZK-ZUG which was operating the service from Takaka to Wellington on 25 February 2019, both in the morning and afternoon. I got caught out this morning expecting it to taxi to Gate 20 at Wellington but instead it parked on Gate 72 and passengers were bussed to the terminal 

And the other side as we taxied out to Palmerston North and Hamilton
Cessna 525 Citation ZK-RJZ on arrival at Wellington on 20 February 2019
Sounds Air's Pilatus PC12 ZK-PLZ was arriving from Westport as we were starting on 25 February 2019

24 February 2019

Originair stretching its wings?

According to Flightaware Originair's BAe Jetstream 31 ZK-JSH flew from Nelson to Palmerston North yesterday as ORIGINAIR 11. One wonders if this marks the start of Originair stretching its wings to get airborne again??? As for Palmerston North - in Fieldair for maintenance??? Time will tell!

Meanwhile the Originair website shows bookings available on flights between Nelson and Palmerston North and Nelson and New Plymouth from the 22nd of March 2019. There are no flights being offered between New Plymouth and Nelson at this stage.

Originair's BAe Jetstream 31 ZK-JSH at Nelson on 18 December 2017

The Flightaware screenshot of yesterday's flight, albeit with a dodgy arrival time!

19 February 2019

Air Napier's East Coast Passenger Service

On the 1st of January I predicted Air Napier would be an airline to watch out for in 2019... https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2019/01/crystal-ball-gazing-for-2019.html. And here is some news about Air Napier's expansion and expansion plans that I missed seeing earlier.

26 January 2019

The new owner of Air Napier has big plans to cut the three-hour commute between Gisborne and Napier down to a 30 minute fly time, with a regular scheduled passenger service. Following the purchase of Air Napier by SO Capital in November, company founder and new Air Napier chief executive Shah Aslam said a soft launch of the Napier-Gisborne route would start next week, with more Gisborne connections under consideration. “Initial research has shown that the public are crying out for regular, scheduled flights connecting Napier direct to Hamilton, Tauranga, Gisborne, Palmerston North, and more. “At Air Napier, we intend to start offering direct flights to the public, at an affordable rate, to better connect these cities in the near future. We want to save people time, whilst also offering an exceptional experience for our customers.” Flight scheduling still had to be confirmed but there was a demand for the airline’s three-seater Senecas and seven-seater Navajo aircraft to perform “multiple” daily flights. Mr Aslam said the airline would remain based at Hawke’s Bay Airport, where it had its own dedicated terminal, and it would also run a satellite office at Gisborne. “We have had a positive response. From the business point of view, we’ve hired a couple more pilots as well because there is more demand. We’ve developed relationships with the Eastland Group up in Gisborne and with the Mayor, so it’s looking good.” Mr Aslam said the company intended to build on the success of former owner Gary Peacock and unlike previous players who had “come and gone” in the regional carrier stakes, Air Napier would follow a “slow and steady” long-term approach. He also praised the leadership of Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon. “That’s what appealed to us about going to Gisborne first, the local leadership has just shown so much more interest — and that goes a long way.” Mr Foon welcomed the news that Air Napier would be coming to Gisborne. “It will provide a service which will help professionals and our community to do business in our region and also our people to get to the other regions which are not serviced by Air New Zealand. “We wish them all the best.” Eastland Group, which operates Gisborne Airport, said the news reinforced the need for a new terminal. “Given Tairawhiti’s relative isolation from the rest of New Zealand, solid air connections are essential for continuing to grow the region’s economy and tourism offering,” Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd said. “This announcement reinforces the importance of having a future-proofed new airport terminal, one that not only showcases the stories of our region but is large enough to accommodate ever-increasing passenger numbers. We’re very supportive of initiatives like this, and wish Air Napier every success.” Mr Aslam said they had been amazed to see how Gisborne was “bubbling” on their visits here. “At times, certain places seem to be bursting at the seams. “People are coming in and there’s a lot of business happening. We think there are a lot of good stories still to come out of that.” He was confident of good demand for new air service connections. “While the beauty of the New Zealand landscape is undeniable, the hills and rugged landscape that go along with that make commuting by car a lengthy exercise, to say the least,” said Mr Aslam. “People are tired of wasting hours of their time sitting in cars, or sitting in airport lounges waiting for connecting flights from Auckland or Wellington.”

26 January 2019 (Editorial)

A new air travel option for the district is great news, even as a harbinger of greater connectivity and convenience rather than competition and lower air fares. Under new ownership, Air Napier is expanding from private charters, scenic flights and ground handling operations to become a regional domestic carrier, and is starting out with a service between Napier and Gisborne — which it is soft-launching next week, with flights on Wednesday and Friday. Air Napier chief executive Shah Aslam says they plan to soon offer direct flights on regular schedules connecting Napier to Hamilton, Tauranga and Palmerston North as well. More connections for Gisborne will also be considered — and positive developments on that front would be the real win for this district, with the above-mentioned cities all being destinations of interest here too. A Rotorua service should also see demand, and be a boon for tourism in this district. Mr Aslam says flight scheduling is yet to be confirmed but they are looking at multiple daily flights between Napier and Gisborne on their seven-seater Navajo or one of their three-seater Senecas (all twin-engine planes). Air Napier’s website is advertising an 8am Gisborne to Napier flight (arrives 8.35am), and a Napier to Gisborne flight at 3.45pm the same day (arrives 4.20pm). A one-way ticket costs $299, or $349 for a seat in the cockpit (“Sit up front with the pilot for an incredible bird’s-eye view!”) Established in 1987, Air Napier was purchased in November last year by SO Capital — which itself was founded in 2012, with the aim of investing in small-medium and start-up New Zealand businesses. SO Capital has invested in hospitality (Mama restaurants in Wellington and Auckland), online job matching service mPloy, a company called Business Obsession and now Air Napier. Its website says: “We don’t invest in businesses, but in industries. We explore industries which will give us a competitive leap forward into the future.” And: “We aim to identify and partner with strong management teams and to work alongside them to identify and implement key operational and strategic changes to drive long-term growth and increased profitability.”

28 January 2019 

If you can afford to splash the cash, it's about to get a little easier to get up the East Coast, with the launch of a new direct flight between Napier and Gisborne. Hawke's Bay based airline Air Napier will be running a regular commercial flight between the two cities, kicking off with two flights on Wednesday. CEO Shah Aslam , who took over the company in November, said Air Napier had been receiving a lot of feedback from people wanting the route. "The public are crying out for regular, scheduled flights connecting Napier direct to Hamilton, Tauranga, Gisborne, Palmerston North, and more." "While the beauty of the New Zealand landscape is undeniable, the hills and rugged landscape that go along with that make commuting by car a lengthy exercise, to say the least. "People are tired of wasting hours of their time sitting in cars, or sitting in airport lounges waiting for connecting flights from Auckland or Wellington." Air Napier has yet to decide how many times a week the service will run. Aslam said it would take six weeks before it became clear how much demand there was. At least to start off with, the flights will be pricey - $299 for a seat, or $349 if you want to sit up front with the pilot. "We've gotten mixed reviews about the pricing, but the reality is everyone is expecting the $59, $69 which Air New Zealand does," Aslam said. "It's just not possible for us to drop it to that price." He said even at the $299 mark, the company was not taking home a massive profit. "This is a long term thing, we could do a $99 flight but in two months Air Napier would not exist." He hoped to drop the prices once the company's fleet was expanded. "There's definitely a potential to reduce the pricing on some of these routes." He hoped to run flights between other eastern cities. He said major airlines in New Zealand were not neglecting the region-to-region flights, but did not have appropriate aircraft to make them viable. "If you look at Air New Zealand's fleet now, the smallest plane they have is probably a 55 seater." "Filling a 55 seater plan three times a day on a daily basis, between a region to region is probably not the most economical way to go." Air Napier's planes seat between three to six people, and they are hoping to expand the fleet to include planes with a slightly higher capacity, up around the nine person mark. Former owner Gary Peacock had built a solid base, which allowed the company to expand into doing commercial flights, Aslam said. As well as the new commercial flights, Air Napier will continue to run charted flights, medical transfers, scenic flights, aerial photography and surveying. It also provides aircraft servicing for private jets flying into Hawke's Bay. The first flight will take off from Gisborne at 8am on Wednesday, and land in Napier at 8.35.

31 January 2019

New Zealand aviation’s second oldest domestic route was back in action yesterday. After announcing it would resume flights between Hawke’s Bay Airport and Gisborne for the first time since Air New Zealand pulled out, Air Napier yesterday began a new direct service. “It was a positive day,” Air Napier chief executive Shah Aslam said. “There was fog in Gisborne, which caused a two-hour delay, but outside of that it was smooth. “We have received a lot of positive responses and feedback, especially from the business community in Gisborne and Napier,” said Mr Aslam, who will be in Gisborne tomorrow for a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce and heads of the local business community. “We will be loading up flights for the next few weeks by Friday.” New Zealand’s first regular scheduled passenger service began in 1930 when Air Travel launched a tri-weekly service between Christchurch and Dunedin using a De Havilland DH50 borrowed from the government. Soon afterwards, Dominion Airlines Ltd began a daily service between Gisborne and Hastings.

2 February 2019

Investors behind the re-launch of the Napier to Gisborne airline route have been blown away with inquiries about the new service — particularly with an unexpected call from Gisborne for a possible “school run” by air. Air Napier started scheduled flights between Gisborne and Napier last week. Chief operating officer Mike Brown said the aim of last Wednesday’s soft-launch was to establish what demand there was for the Napier-Gisborne route, as well as potential new link from Gisborne to other regions. “The amount of email we’ve had and phone calls, we had to put extra staff on over the last few days, has been phenomenal. I mean we got asked for a ‘bus route’ because there are so many kids going to private schools in Hawke’s Bay and they are only spending one day a week with their parents, the rest of the time they are at school or sitting in a car. So, there are all these new things that have come out of it.” Brown said the airline was also open to working with community groups. “So far the response has been extremely good — phenomenal to be honest. “It’s been very refreshing — from the Mayor to the unique set up with Eastland Group and the i-Site guys. Everybody is singing off the same song sheet and that makes it easier for people like us. “Gisborne is open for business. ECT have been very open and the Chamber of Commerce have been extremely welcoming. “We were always of the mindset of wanting some scheduled flights region to region and that’s what we are looking at.” People at the government’s Provincial Growth Fund were also “pretty excited” about the possibilities. “We’re open to all aspects and we’re open to investment too, just like any other business, and we’re willing to work with anyone who wants to work with us. I think there’s a big opportunity here, which is why we’ve shifted our lives and we’ve got a solid team behind us.” Air Napier now had 11 staff members based in Hawke’s Bay with room to expand staff levels further, including Gisborne. “Doors are really opening up here,” he said. “Everything, apart from the road (SH2) leading into Gisborne, seems to be ready to move. That’s been the biggest positive out of here.” The airline had five aircraft, four twin engines and one single engine, and was looking to recruit six new pilots. Air Napier chief executive Shah Aslam said the airline was “very dedicated” to Gisborne. “It’s not all about us, it’s about working together in partnership with ECT, the council and other local businesses. There’s no business too small or too big that we won’t work with.” Gisborne Chamber of Commerce chief executive Terry Sheldrake said members had been keen to hear more about the airline at a presentation to members on Thursday. “They understand that Air Napier will work with our community re a flexible timetable, and will be doing their due diligence around finding the best price that they can offer for this service, yesterday was day one so very early stages for this new service.” Members particularly liked knowing they now had an option to get to Hawke’s Bay in just a 35-minute flight.

17 February 2019

Ten Minutes at Taupō

A flying visit of me and my car to Taupō yielded the following...

Three visitors from Ashburton, Piper Cherokees ZK-DEK...


...and Piper Archer ZK-EBZ

Parked up was Taupos Floatplane Cessna 206 ZK-EFI...

Sounds Air's Pilatus PC12 waiting for its next flight to Wellington...

and Cessna 206 ZK-SKZ.

Arriving at the pumps was Helicopter Services BOP's Aerospatiale Squirrel ZK-HKC

...while Bombardier Q300 ZK-NEP arrived from Auckland