03 January 2020

Final Wine Country Flight

Sounds Air have operated their last Blenheim-Napier-Blenheim services today. The service has been operating for just over four year years.

Looking back, in May 2015, following demand from wine lovers and workers in the wine industry, Sounds Air announced it would introduce a scheduled service between Napier and Blenheim in August 2015. It was proposed that the service would operate twice daily, two days a week using their Pilatus PC12 aircraft. Sounds Air managing director Andrew Crawford said, "Talking to the winery owners, there are huge synergies between Marlborough and Hawke's Bay, in terms of ownership." Wineworks in Hawke's Bay, for instance, has its biggest bottling plant in Marlborough. Dave Wenley from Wineworks said Sounds Air direct flights will save him as much as five hours a day in travelling time, once Wellington is eliminated from the loop. Neil Barber, deputy chairman of Hawke's Bay Tourism, said the flight service will be a boon for the region. "It will be great for Hawke's Bay as well as the wine industry," As it was the first flight did not occur until November 2015 as Sounds Air did not have an aircraft available, 

Flights began on the 5th of November 2015. The inaugural services, northbound from Blenheim to Naper, S8 712, and southbound S8 713, were flown in Pilatus PC-12 ZK-PLZ under the command of Tim Johnson. Two passengers along with three Sounds Air staff were on the first flight including Andrew Crawford. The return flight was full. Among those travelling was Boyd Gross, a director of valuation and property services company Logan Stone. He told Hawkes Bay Today reporter, "This is a great service," he said. "We make something like 30 to 40 trips down there a year." He said business trips could now be undertaken in one day whereas used to be two - due to lack of direct flights. "It saves a lot of hours and that is so valuable." Villa Maria viticulturist Ollie Powrie was also making the trip south as it was a direct link to the Marlborough winemaking region. "It's a great new service," he said

Boarding the first Sounds Air flight from Napier to Blenheim on the 5th of November 2015.

The airline commenced offerings running direct morning flights to Blenheim on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays and evening flights on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Sounds Air's Blenheim-Napier schedule, effective 5 November 2015

The timetable was altered with the introduction of Sounds Air's Christchurch service on the 1st* of August 2016. The same aircraft was used for Napier and the revised schedule had flights operating on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays with a total of five flights offered each week. From the 5th of May 2017 a return Blenheim to Napier service of Fridays was reintroduced. 

Sounds Air's Blenheim-Napier schedule, effective 5 May 2017

On the 15th of October Sounds Air has announced that they would cease operating the direct service between Napier and Blenheim effective Monday the 6th of January 2020. On their Facebook page Sounds Air thank all their loyal supporters "who utilised this service during its 4 years of operation." While the service was continuing into 2020 select services were cancelled. Airline chairman John Stace said the service is being cut because it was simply not viable to fund the route anymore. We had planes going one way empty and returning with only two to three passengers on board so in the end it wasn't viable." 

The final service was operated on the 3rd of January 2020 with Pilatus PC12 operating flights S8 714 from Blenheim to Napier and the return flight S8 715. 

A big thanks to Matthew for recording the arrival of the final Sounds Air flight into Napier today operated by Pilatus PC12 ZK-PLB 

While Sounds Air have withdrawn from this service they have stated there will be a new route this year.


  1. Hi, I think you got your dates mixed up during this post? In both the first and second paragraph you mention first flights occouring in 1995 rather than 2015.