12 June 2023

The End of an Era and the Beginning of Another?

A big THANKS to John King for these superb photos of Air Chathams' first and now retired Fairchild Metroliner III ZK-CIC.

Air Chathams' Fairchild Metroliner III ZK-CIC over Waitangi, the "capital" of the Chatham Islands

ZK-CIC on a more tropical island duty with Chathams Pacific at Vava'u, Tonga, in January 2015

ZK-CIC in the spectacular Whakatāne colour scheme over Whakatāne (above) and Ohope Beach (below) in December 2015

With the purchase of four additional Saabs, (with I understand one to be parted out) one wonders what the future is for Air Chathams two Metroliners, Metroliner III ZK-CID and Metro 23 ZK-POF?

One also wonders what Air Chathams plans are for the aircraft? A commenter on this blog suggested that the other three aircraft Air Chathams have bought are VH-KDK (c/n 340A-016) a freighter, VH-KDB (c/n 340A-008) a freighter and VH-EKD (c/n 340A-155) in passenger configuration.

Rex Airlines' only Saab 340A VH-EKD devoid of titles at Adelaide on 3 March 2023 ... According to Wikipedia it is owned by Pel-Air Aviation Pty Ltd (trading as Pel-Air) which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Regional Express Holdings, which also owns Australian airline Rex Airlines.

So my musings... and they are musings hence the questions marks. In the words of Sergeant Shultz, "I know nothing"

The Metroliners will go?

Whakatāne goes Saab?

More dedicated pure freight flights to and from the Chathams?

Domestic dedicated freight services? Air Chathams at times operates such flights from Blenheim with seafood and at times from Te Anau with crayfish? But maybe another contract with at least two pure freighters?


Whatever happens exciting times for the airline watchers...


  1. CID hasn't flown in quite a while. POF operating all WHK flights at the moment, with the odd Saab.

  2. When VH-KDB arrives in due time it'll become ZK-CIW. If one is to be parted out, maybe the passenger config one? I thought the plan might have been to retire all the Metros (Someone told me POF going end of August) and have this new passenger one as spare, whilst the 3 freight ones to help cover the freight which CIY can't do as a combi.

    Time will tell, interesting move from Air Chathams though!

  3. If one is to be parted out it surely will be a freighter. The three current pax Saabs are already very busy maintaining Kapiti, Whanganui, Norfolk and the occasional Whakatane and Chathams. CIY is also used for freight runs to Chathams and elsewhere, CIZ is also used for pax charters. If one breaks down or needs extended maintenance then if the Metros are gone the only alternative is an ATR. They really do need another pax Saab even without adding more routes.

  4. Meanwhile a headline in today's Whanganui Chronicle is suggesting there is a possibility that Air Chathams may have to scrub the Whanganui service due to high landing charges at both Whanganui and Auckland. Story is behind a paywall, but did manage to see some of it in a print edition - states the scrubbing of the service is a worst case scenario.

  5. I'm not sure I'm convinced of the viability of adding more early model Saab 340s to supplement/replace the exisiting fleet. Sure, these things are younger than the now retired Convair 580 but some of these early frames are approaching 40 years old so we're not talking more than a few years of viable use. On the flip side, the manufacturer continues to provide support and expertise for in service aircraft, which likely assists smaller operators like Chats.

    1. There’s at least another 15 yrs of life in the 340A models they’re getting, based on ‘average’ utilisation.

  6. Would be neat if cic could be preserved due to its established history in nz, maybe alongside cib in wanaka????