24 May 2019

Interesting Partnership

Air Chathams and INFLITE charters working together 

Air Chathams is stepping up its services significantly this year while still retaining its reputation as the friendly, people-first airline that’s been operating in New Zealand and the Pacific for over 30 years.  In streamlining the charter sales processes, INFLITE Charters has been appointed the General Sales Agent (GSA) for all new charter business in New Zealand for the Chatham Islands founded airline. INFLITE Charters is New Zealand’s largest private air travel and aviation solutions company, formed in 2012 by the amalgamation of three long standing aviation companies; Helilink, Skylink and Air National.  They excel in the provision of private jet, turbo prob and helicopter charter, VIP transfer services, exclusive scenic flight packages, customised events, commercial air lifting and specialist freight. Operating throughout New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific, INFLITE now has the facility to use Air Chathams’ Metroliner, Saab, Convair and the new ATR 72 for charter work exclusively within New Zealand.  Current scheduled passenger flights will naturally be prioritised during operations and existing charter agreements will remain in place as a direct relationship with Air Chathams. “We look forward to further growing our charter capacity with INFLITE Charters, especially knowing their reputation and dedication to a high level of customer service.  It’s great to take up the opportunity to work together as both companies have extensive experience throughout New Zealand and are flexible enough to meet the demands of the sector in terms of location, size and aircraft capability,“ said Duane Emeny, General Manager of Air Chathams. Paul Aston, Charter Sales Manager of INFLITE Charters agrees “Premium service delivery is core to our business as is the reliability and experience in corporate charters that Air Chathams brings to the sector.  The fact Air Chathams operations span the length and breadth of the country is a great fit for us.  We are excited to expand our charter offering for the benefit of our customers, INFLITE and Air Chathams.”

Once an "airliner" - ZK-EKS

I caught up on Piper Cherokee 6 ZK-EKS at Tauranga on 17 May 2019. The last time I photographed it was 30 years ago at Oamaru! I clearly have been in the plane spotting business too long!

In the 1980s ZK-EKS was used by two operators offering regular air services...

NZ Air Charter flew regular services from Ardmore to Dargaville, Kaikohe and Kaitaia in Northland, to Great Barrier Island as well as to the Coromandel and Raglan.

Air North Shore operated regular services between Dairy Flat/North Shore Airport and Great Barrier Island.

23 May 2019

Remember scheduled Mu2 flights to Tauranga???

On 17 September 2019 I took Westpac Air Ambulance's Mitsubishi Mu2G ZK-KOH at Tauranga...

...and it reminded me of when Air Central operated Mu2s into Tauranga.

Mitsubishi Mu2G ZK-EKZ at Tauranga on 25 November 1982 

Mitsubishi Mu2G ZK-EON at Tauranga on 25 November 1982. 

The timetable at the time had two Mu2s on the ground at Tauranga at the same time as seen above 

For more on Air Central see

My only flight in a Mitsubishi Mu2G was in N671MA  (which became ZK-EKZ). It was on demonstration to Hokitika-based Westland Flying Services in December 1980 and I got to fly Hokitika-Greymouth-Hokitika it. It's STOL capability was ideal for Greymouth and being pressurised it was ideal for Westland FS's service to Christchurch. It handled Greymouth easily and climbed like the clappers!

For more on Westland Flying Services see

21 May 2019

Air New Zealand at Tauranga

Bombardier Q300 ZK-NEF at Tauranga on 17 May 2019

Bombardier Q300 ZK-NEM at Tauranga on 17 May 2019

Bombardier Q300 ZK-NEM at Tauranga on 17 May 2019

ATR 72-600 ZK-MVX, Air New Zealand's newest ATR, at Tauranga on 18 May 2019 

...and again and again

1 July 2019

20 May 2019

RNZAF in the Circuit

Captured in the circuit at Tauranga on 17 May 2019 were a couple of RNZAF aircraft...

The new addition to the fleet...  my first glimpse of one of the new Beechcraft King Air 350s... NZ2353

Scheduled to depart from the fleet, Lockheed P-3K2 Orion NZ4202

15 May 2019

Long range shots of Golden Bay Air

I miss Golden Bay Air pulling into Gate 20 at Wellington... Here is their Seneca ZK-ZAG taxiing to its remote park from where the passengers will be bussed to the terminal... The first one is a desperate long range photo -  the second one has the heat haze of the exhaust of an Airbus

12 May 2019

Air Wanganui and the Piper Mojave

Air Wanganui was the successor to Commuter Air Charter which, since 1973, had provided IFR charter services from Wanganui to airports around New Zealand. Three aircraft were used, Cessna 310L ZK-DLP, Cessna 310R ZK-ETM and Beech 58 Baron, ZK-EJJ. 

Commuter Air Charter's Cessna 310 ZK-DLP at Wanganui in February 1974 

Commuter Air Charter's replacement Cessna 310, ZK-ETM at Wanganui in 8 April 1980 
Moving up from the Cessna 310s, Commuter Air Charter's Beech Baron ZK-EJJ at Wanganui on 18 January 1986

On 11 May 1987 Air Wanganui Commuter Limited, which traded as Air Wanganui, was formed by Wanganui Aero Work Ltd, Wanganui Trawlers Ltd, and Warnocks Ltd to operate an air ambulance and charter service. Recognising how often business people needed to reach Auckland, Wellington and the South Island quickly, the owners purchased a $770,000 pressurised Piper Pa31P-350 Mojave ZK-WTH capable of flying five passengers 10,000ft above all weathers.

Air Wanganui's Piper Mojave ZK-WTH at Wanganui on 6 October 1987

On the 3rd of July 1987 Eagle Air withdrew its Wanganui-Hamilton-Auckland that allowied same day business travel between Wanganui and Auckland. Air River City commenced a business schedule to Auckland on Mondays. Wednesdays and Fridays and to Hamilton on Tuesdays and Thursday. Seeing a gap Air Wanganui started a twice weekly flight from Wanganui to Auckland using the Piper Mojave on Tuesdays and Thursdays. These flights operated to suit business traffic with an early morning departure from Wanganui and a late afternoon return with the aircraft remaining in Auckland all day. 

On the 26th of August 1987 Air Wanganui introduced a weekly scheduled flight to Wellington and return on a trial basis. The Wellington flights departed Wanganui at 7.30am, arriving in the capital 30 minutes later. The flights were timed to connect with flights from Wellington to Christchurch. The return flight departed Wellington at 5.30pm, arriving back in Wanganui at 6pm. The Wellington service was short lived.

Following the tragic end of Air River City in May 1988, Air Wanganui operated a Wednesday an Auckland-Wanganui-Auckland service that operated both in the morning and the afternoon allowing Auckland business people a full day in Wanganui. This service was also short-lived and the company reverted to just operating the Tuesday and Thursday flights.

Air Wanganui's Auckland schedule when, in addition to the Tuesday and Thursday flights, there were two flights on a Wednesday. 
Air Wanganui timetable effective 1 July 1989

In early 1990 Air New Zealand announced that its Friendship services from Wanganui to Auckland, which operated either through Whakatane and in Taupo, would be replaced with direct flights to Auckland operated by Air Nelson Metroliners. With the new Metroliner schedule operating at the same as its own flights Air Wanganui decided to cease its twice weekly service to Auckland which ended on the 5th of April 1990.

At the same time the company announced it was going to concentrate on the Wanganui-Wellington route and connect its services with Ansett New Zealand. Operating as part of the Tranzair franchise, a three-day-a-week return service from Wanganui to Wellington began on the 9th of April 1990. The new Wellington service operated on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, leaving at 8am and returning at 5.20pm. The flights were timed to allow commuters to connect with Ansett flights leaving for Christchurch and northern centres. The Piper Mojave, was still available for charter work seven days a week.

Initial response to Air Wanganui Commuter's new timetable was better than had been expected. Peter Warnock, a company director, told the Wanganui Chronicle, "We have been impressed by the number of people who have wanted to go on flights beyond Wellington." However, the new service did not last long and was not listed in the Ansett New Zealand timetable of 24 June 1990.

In a new colour scheme, Air Wanganui's Piper Majove ZK-WTH at Ardmore 

Air Wanganui continued to operate charter flights with the Piper Mojave and in particular to develop the air ambulance market. In August 2005 the Mojave was supplemented with the purchase of Beechcraft King Air C90A, ZK-MKG. Peter Oberschneider, Air Wanganui's chief executive described the King Air as ‘state of the art’ with leather upholstery and a host of on-board amenities that put it among the top flight of small aircraft. It is these sort of attributes that means the aircraft is ‘one of the nicest charter machines’ currently available in the country. In addition to the purchase of the new aircraft the company also built a new hangar to house it.

A couple of shots of Beech King Air ZK-MKG, at Wellington on 13 September 2006 and below at Gisborne on 9 June 2016

A second Beech King Air C90A, ZK-SNM, was added to the fleet in October 2010. It was sold in May 2014.

Air Wanganui's Beech King Air ZK-SNM about to get airborne from Wanganui on 7 December 2010

In February 2016 the Piper Mojave was sold and in April 2016 Beech Super King Air 200 ZK-MDC was purchased as its replacement. 

Air Wanganui's Piper Mojave ZK-WTH at Wanganui on 24 October 2014

In April 2018 Dean Martin, the company’s chief executive, told the Wanganui Chronicle that "We fly about 600 patients a year in and out of Whanganui, transferring them anywhere from Dunedin to Auckland hospitals but predominantly to Wellington. We have a close association with Life Flight in Wellington. We are their back-up aircraft and we also work closely with Taranaki District Health Board. Because hospitals these days are quite specialised with the services they provide, we go all over New Zealand. I think since I've been here we've been to every DHB location. Prior to the purchase of the new King Air our business was about 95 per cent air ambulance and 4 per cent charter. New business has grown substantially in the last 18 months. Now the split of the business is more like 75 per cent air ambulance and 20 per cent charter, with some other little bits making up the rest."

Air Wanganui's Beech Super King Air ZK-MDC at Hamilton on 18 January 2017

In more recent times Air Wanganui has been again flying scheduled services again on behalf of Originair operating their services from Nelson to New Plymouth, Napier and Palmerston North.

11 May 2019

Further INFLITE Expansion

INFLITE, one of New Zealand’s leading aviation tourism companies, has greatly expanded its skydive operations today announcing the acquisition of Skydive Abel Tasman and in September, the opening of Skydive Mt Cook. Nelson Tasman Air also joins INFLITE, adding to its scenic flight experiences throughout New Zealand. The new businesses complement existing operations Skydive Franz Josef, Mount Cook Ski Planes and Helicopters, INFLITE Taupo, INFLITE Auckland and INFLITE Charters. Skydive Abel Tasman has been operated by founder Stuart Bean for almost 30 years. A life-long skydiver who did his first jump at age 19, Bean’s now regarded as amongst the best in the business with more than 17,000 skydives to his name and is also a commercial pilot with over 3000 hours. Bean will remain involved with the business. Says Bean, “I am delighted to have the business transfer to a company with the same culture and values I share with the team in Abel Tasman. My staff are looking forward to the opportunities that a nationwide operator can bring and have really supported me through the process. I believe the company is in good hands with a bright future ahead.” The acquisition of Skydive Abel Tasman adds a dedicated and experienced team of skydive staff to the existing INFLITE team, along with an additional Pilatus PC-6 Porter to its fleet. Nelson Tasman Air offer stunning scenic flights in both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft flying into the Abel Tasman National Park. This business complements Skydive Abel Tasman, located side-by-side at Motueka Airport.

INFLITE used to operate two BAe Jetstream 32s ZK-ECI and ZK-ECJ

09 May 2019

Manapouri Flights Diverted

Popular chartered flights into the Te Anau-Manapouri Airport have been diverted for the remaining tourism season after regional airline Air Chathams unexpectedly discovered the airfield hadn't been certified to take its flights. A series of operational and compliance issues at Fiordland's airport have forced a loyal regional airline to divert its flights elsewhere, leaving a local tourism operator 'extremely disappointed' in the Southland District Council's lack of foresight when it came to fostering business at the airport High-end tour operator Tauck Tours was supposed to have its last chartered flight for the season through Air Chathams into Fiordland on Sunday (May 5). However, those passengers had to be diverted to Queenstown instead due to a 'surprise' discovery by the airline a couple of months ago. Air Chathams general manager Duane Emeny said the latest revision for the Te Anau-Manapouri Airport's landing charts showed the airfield was no longer certified for the large-category aircraft Air Chathams had been using for their regular weekly flights chartered by Tauck Tours. 'We noticed straight away that Manapouri had changed from a certified airfield to a non-certified airfield.' Mr Emeny said it really came as a big surprise to us ' Tauck Tours had been flying into Manapouri for at least 20 years. Mr Emeny explained. Regardless of the different operators Tauck Tours had chartered with. he said they all used aircraft that required the airport to have now missing certification, called Part 139. As the council, which owns and manages the airport. now works to get re-certified for the next tourism season. Mr Emeny said the whole experience had been 'very disruptive' for the airline 'It's not something that we wanted to be spending a whole lot of our senior management time doing.' Mr Emeny said. SDC commercial infrastructure manager Dylan Rabbidge and general manager for services and assets Matt Russell said the council made the decision, in conjunction with the CAA to relinquish its certification in 2015 as it was 'not technically required. Requirements for the certificate changed since then, and after a CAA inspection of the airport a month ago the aviation authority determined Part 139 certification was once again required for the airport. Mr Rabbidge and Mr Russell said, however, the aerodrome had already been working to be re-certified for the next season even prior  to being inspected But before all of this came light, Mr Emeny said neither the council nor its airport manager Evan Pearce consulted with Air Chathams, 'In a lot of ways, the airport manager should have made us aware of it It should have been a deliberate conversation with Air Chathams just to make sure we were aware of whatever understanding he had with the CAA over the certification of the airfield,' Mr Emeny said. And of course, we never asked the question because the approach plates that we were using... indicated that the airfield was certified.' Advocate South was unable to speak with Mr Pearce before press time. The airline still wanted to fly into Manapouri, and Mr Emeny said he was 'reasonably' optimistic the airport would get up to standard before the start of the next season. Airport issues had not only seriously affected the airline's work for Tauck Tours, but it's also made a big impact on their Fiordland to Chatham Islands charters for Merv's Chatham Islands Tours. In this case. Mr Emeny said the approach procedure for a ground-based navigation aid had been removed from the airport, and Air Chatham's own aircraft were too old to meet additional requirements without it. 'We've had to move Merv's' tours out of Invercargill. which is a real shame because I think the magic of what he was doing was the fact that it was flying out of Manapouri, such an isolated, remote destination to another very isolated, remote destination on the Chathams." However, Mr Rabbidge and Mr Russell said the diversions to Invercargill earlier this season were 'due to weather' at Te Anau-Manapouri Airport. As for Te Anau resident Mery Halliday. who has been running these tours since 2014, he said that was what navigational aids were for to help pilots navigate through inclement weather Mr Halliday said he was 'extremely disappointed' as the council had been alerted to these issues years before. Aviation pioneer and fellow Te Anau resident the late Russell Baker averted the council to these issues at a 2017 meeting around wastewater infrastructure at the airport, he said. 'I'm extremely disappointed in that we've got a fully serviceable airport there due to the foresight of some of the earlier councillors,' Mr Halliday said 'Okay. there's hiccups along the way, but the fact that the late Russell Baker pointed out to the full council the situation as it was unfolding and they haven t taken a scrap of notice.' it's a bit like a bar licence at a hotel... If a pub loses its liquor Russell Baker pointed out to the full council the situation as it was unfolding and they haven t taken a scrap of notice.' it's a bit like a bar licence at a hotel. If a pub loses its liquor licence, bloody hell, its a huge job to get it back because everything has got to be brought right up to standard, and this is the same thing. Ultimately, he said the community should be proud of the airport it had. 'They're taking the sewage down there, they've let the navigational aids go and they've let the licence lapse... Anybody else would be doing all they could to foster [opportunities' and think. 'How could we get more traffic into Manapouri?' The tours he's been running to the Chathams are now being booked to fly out of Invercargill Airport for the next season. 

Source : Advocate South, 9 May 2019

08 May 2019

Remember Hercules Airlines?

I am in the early stages of putting together something on Hercules Airlines who operated 3 Bristol Freighters in the mid 1980s. Looking for any info but in particular from anyone who worked for flew for them. If you can help please email me at westland831@gmail.com



07 May 2019

...and again

19th of June

04 May 2019

Dunedin on Thursday

I had just over an hour at Dunedin Airport on Thursday, 25 May 2019, before starting off home...

Surprise of the day was Air Chathams' Fairchild Metroliner III ZK-CIC 

ATR 72-500 ZK-MCU was taxiing out as a I arrived

Arriving into Dunedin was ATR 72-600 ZK-MVM, my ride to Wellington... This trip was the first time I had flown the WLG-DUD route, southbound in an A320 and northbound in the ATR

The only movement from Mainland Air was Cessna 152 ZK-NSM coming back from a training mission

Photo of the day was at last a decent shot of Jetstar's orange Airbus 320 VH-VGF