14 September 2020

The Barrier Air Transformation Continues


Friday, the 11th of September, marked another step in the transformation of the Auckland-based regional airline Barrier Air with the arrival back in Auckland of the company's first Cessna 208 Grand Caravan, ZK-SDB, now painted in Barrier Air's company livery. All Barrier Air's fleet of three Cessna Grand Caravans now carry the same livery. 

Looking sharp! With the return of "Bravo" the Barrier Air fleet at Auckland, with from left to right ZK-SDB, ZK-SDD and ZK-SDC. 

I was fortunate to have been able to have a conversation on Friday with Nick Pearson, Barrier Air's Chief Executive Officer and Grant Bacon, Barrier Air's Chief Operating Officer. Nick sees the repainting of SDB as representing "a real milestone for our airline and is a visual representation of all of the hard work by many people over the past 5 years to make Barrier Air the professional, reliable and safe airline that you see today. The team at Flightcare in Napier have done a great job maintaining our aircraft and the recent paint work is a testament to the high level of service they provide."

Of course a paint job is just about the outside. When I asked Nick about what's going on on the inside Nick said that the Covid restrictions had enabled Barrier Air to get ahead of its normal maintenance schedule. As has been reported on this blog before Barrier Air set aside always set aside revenue from every ticket to ensure scheduled maintenance is always done on time and safety is never compromised (https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2020/03/nzs-northern-most-air-service-part-3.html). This year the lockdown has enabled us to get ahead of our maintenance schedule and this in turn ensures a reliable service. It is very rare for a Barrier Air service to cancelled due to engineering issues. And as for SDB's previous paint job... It was still okay but by doing the repaint we were able to do a couple of extra jobs to keep the aircraft in top condition.  Again, as has been reported on this blog before, Barrier Air are committed to having state of the art navigational equipment that enable them to work with ATC in the busy Auckland skies (https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2018/09/growing-airline-barrier-air-on-rise.html).

Asking about Covid and Levels 4 and 3 and Level 2.5 for Auckland and how is the airline bouncing back, Grant said, "The market to Great Barrier is progressing well. Whilst the lockdowns do put the brakes on revenue for the actual lockdown period, we have found that as the restrictions are eased the sales rebound and all indicators point to this summer being very busy on the routes. Reinstating the North Shore service from this week has also been a significant milestone with decent load factors being achieved so far. The market from North Shore is quite limited but we have added some peak services on Fridays and Sundays this summer along with our standard 5 x weekly late morning schedule which should work well. Finally, the Kaitaia loads are also recovering. We are currently doing a 6 x weekly daytime schedule and will increase to 7 days per week within another few weeks. We are currently overnighting only on Sunday’s and the late night Friday service but we envisage this should return to 6 overnights per week by Labour weekend. 

Speaking on Covid Nick said, "the recent challenges bought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the airline industry globally. Our thoughts are with all of our friends and partners in the industry at this time and we wish them all the best while navigating future uncertainties and challenges in the aviation space. Due to the hard work of our fantastic people, support from our customer base, assistance from central government/council/local boards/local MPs, and a committed and supportive Board, Barrier Air is in a strong position to deal with the challenges presented by COVID-19 and we look forward to settling back into a busier schedule again when the time comes. I would be remiss to not extend my gratitude all of the people who have been part of the Barrier Air family in the last 5 years for their contributions towards helping our airline become the premium air service to Great Barrier Island and the Far North."

Nick and Grant are both quite humble about their and the airline's achievements. Nick says, "I’m very proud of the team at Barrier Air and look forward to further enhancing our brand and product offerings. The future looks bright for the airline. A special mention must be made of our leadership and management teams. I am very grateful to have the support of such a committed, passionate and capable team, striving to continually improve all aspects of our service.”

From a hot potch of pistons to a fleet of three turbo prop Caravans equipped with state of the art navigational equipment and presented with a modern corporate colour scheme Barrier Air has been transformed since its formation. It has weathered the Covid storm and, as Grant says, "With our focus on maintaining and presenting our aircraft to a really high standard, our passengers are loyal and travel with us often” 

One wonders what might be next for this innovative and forward thinking regional airline.

A special thanks to Nick and Grant from Barrier Air... Always good to talk aeroplanes and airlines with you guys.


  1. Great job as usual Steve, I think Flightcare Napier may have done the maintenance, you may want to check, regards Matthew

  2. Ooops... Fixed! Thanks Matthew

  3. Wonderful story Steve thanks for sharing