01 March 2020

At last...

At last I got a decent full sun, side on picture of Air Chathams' ATR 72 ZK-MCO... Though I must say, I hate orange cones which are surely the unspoken environmental crisis in our country that no one is talking about... 

But back to the ATR, I wonder what the future holds for Air Chathams, particularly in terms of a Convair replacement. Are the ATR and Saab going to be their two fleet types??? I made my predictions on New Year's Day, http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2020/01/crystal-ball-gazing-for-2020.html, but I am wondering now if my predictions were wrong...

For those who like to save an up to date airline profile I have also updated the Air Chathams' profile...  http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2016/01/air-chathams-30-years-on.html


Air Chathams' sole ATR 72 ZK-MCO at Auckland on 20 February 2020. Will there be more? And will they fly to Norfolk or the Chathams? 

ZK-KRA at Auckland on 10 February 2020. Air Chathams has three Saab 340s...  Will we see further Saab expansion in the regions?



Is there another type available to meet Air Chathams varied needs? A 737 might be ideal but not without a suitable runway on the Chathams... Put on your creative airline hats, whether you are a professional or an armchair enthusiast like me... what other type would suit Air Chats needs now and into the future

14 comments:

  1. A220 (not A320)

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    1. I was just about to say that.

      Good for Air NZ regional as well

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    2. Unit cost A220-100: US$ 81 m (ave. list price 2018); A220-300: US$ 91.5 m (ave. list price 2018) - so unlikely but it would be good to see

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  2. I was thinking that to my untrained eye the ilyushin il-114-300 which I see is being put back in production is purpose built for Air Chatteris. It appears to have great range. Good fuel efficiency and the ability to use grass str1ps
    Not sure on payload but I suspect it would be OK. Of course still has to get airworthiness certificates.

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    1. Be nice if it had PT6 engines - but it looks a nice airliner

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  3. Like most above I can't see Air Chats forking out for a new aircraft never mind financing an airworthiness certificate on top of that.

    Problem with the ATR72 as I see it is over capacity for the routes Air Chats are flying. The current bird is probably largely paid for year round by the high end Tauck contract. But where else could they use them?
    WAG - Although they use the CV580 on some WAG flights I understand they aren't often booked out and the ATR is another 18 seats to fill and in all probability the ATR requires a higher %age of seats filled to break even than the capital paid off CV580. Given the WAG demographics - sorry can't see it.
    WAK - same issue just (much) bigger gap.
    PPQ - If Air Chats get their head around PPQ then given the plethora of high end customers waiting to be tapped perhaps the morning north bound Mon - Fri and evening south bound has the potential to be built up. Kapiti and northern Porirua are rapidly growing areas in the higher decile zone. Air NZ's Dash 8s on those business time flights never had less than 45 pax whenever I flew in them but the off peak flights were about 25 max. = problem - 2 flights a day doesn't pay the bills for an expensive aircraft.
    Chathams - need a lot more accommodation on the island before demand will increase enough to require a 68 seater replacing a 36 seater (CIB is the mainstay on the route for a reason).
    Norfolk - has some potential - the early flights were 36 seat CIB but now seems to be 50 seat CIE. Could be grown for an ATR but for one flight a week?

    Given Air Chats penchant for successfully finding and using right sized 2nd hand aircraft perhaps Dash8-300? Right size for most routes, and easier growth potential for most others, add in it will be cheaper than an ATR to buy and fly, and would appear easier to service in house than the ATR given that a swathe of past and current operators in NZ have done so. If there is a downturn caused by the flu scare or whatever there could be some short term pickings here or over the big ditch.

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    1. From what I understand from NZ the ATR is more economical than a Q300. The question is, is the ATR a good Convair replacement? Air Chats are serious about 737-400s so they must have done the sums about freight and pax out of the Chathams and I presume Norfolk. CIB is the mainstay of the Chathams route for freight... four flights a week with an additional two in summer for the Chats plus additional charter flights over the summer. A 737 would also give them options in the Pacific. The ATR is not the machine for around NZ except for a few peak flights... I can't see an ATR going into WAG except on peak flights... Not sure if they could fit into PPQ? And it definitely won't be going to WHK... I am open to correction but I don't the Saab has been into WHK very often this year.

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    2. Nah mate, Air Chathams have their eyes set on a 737-300, I'm not sure if it's going to be Combi or Quick change but I imagine the likely choice is Combi. All they're waiting on is the island airport.

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  4. Word is decision is still some way off -Convairs will be around for a wee while longer

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    1. Saab appear an ideal fit for most flights to/from WAG -with good bookings/full on most flights. Convair at present only used for peak and writer had been told are fairly full on most flights if not full. Writer has only traveled on one ATR flight out of WAG and it was full. One of the reasons Air Chathams have succeeded on the WAG run is they appear to be able to 'tailor' the air craft type to the projected demand. For example one of the off peak flights during the recent holiday period was a Metro (not good for those used to their Tim Tams). Once NZ got back to normal it was Saabs with Convairs on the peak services. It remains to be seen whether the ATR will replace Convairs during the winter.They appear to be doing a similar exercise at WHK using the Metro on most flights supplemented by Saabs at peak. I guess the loss of Convair CIF may have caused a bit of a capacity headache for Air Chathams.

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  5. Without the runway extension happening at CHT, And CIB being a combi version I honestly see the 580s staying for at least 5 more years keeping CIE for NLK runs. Only time will tell

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  6. What about a Saab 2000 ? Still a few of them about in Europe and probably available at a good price. Right size, probably good for the Chathams

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  7. Yes they are looking at a jet. Why shouldn't they? The issue with the Chathams route is overall economic capacity. The problem is the outbound flight from mainland to Chathams. NZCAA regs require the carriage of sufficient fuel to get there plus 45 mins for multiple approach attempts plus sufficient fuel to get you safely to and landed at the nearest diversion airfield. For the outbound run to the Chathams that's all the way back to the mainland. Norfolk is probably less as Lord Howe is presumably the diversion.
    When looking at replacement aircraft this is where a jet has advantages. Whilst (almost?) all commercial aircraft cannot lift a max pax plus max freight plus max fuel and there is always a trade off that needs to end up being an economic load. And most domestic aircraft (ignore those built for long haul) have very similar range when expressed in flying hours (not distance). In terms of the Chats route a jet will obviously fly it faster so the percentage of fuel needed in terms of max available flying hours is going to be significantly less than a slower turboprop meaning greater flexibility of pax + freight load = more profit. Obviously the jet with its greater capacity will need to generate sufficient pax and freight volume. If the Chathams do move to a more tourist orientated economy that should be very doable. Look round your home and realise that everything in it bar fresh fruit, vegies, meat and fish and a few other items has to be shipped to the Chathams and more tourists equals more inbound freight. And as I understand it the availability of sea shipping is close to non existent. The only thing is that logically unless they can put in arrangements for on call access to a backup aircraft (Airwork?) they will need two and keeping both economically occupied could be a challenge.

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  8. You are completely wrong about shipping services to the Chathams - see https://www.chathamislandsshipping.co.nz/schedule for the details. The Southern Tiare offers a substantial freight-only (no passengers) service with roughly two sailings a month taking to Napier and/or Timaru.

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