08 July 2020

Sounds Air Survey Results



A new air service between Wanaka and Christchurch got the thumbs up from 90% of 3600 people surveyed over a week in June. The survey results were released by the company this afternoon with 90% ''positive'' or ''strongly positive''. Sounds Air managing director Andrew Crawford said the results showed the service would be ''embraced'' by the Wanaka community and the airline's customer base which included Christchurch residents. Sounds Air proposes using two 9-seat Pilatus PC12 turbo-prop aircraft for up to 15 return flights per week initially, with up to three services per day. The Queenstown Airport Corporation has not given its approval, saying it would not develop Wanaka Airport to introduce scheduled services until the council had completed plans and assessments. Mr Crawford has maintained no airport development was required for his service. ''It is clear from this survey that an important aspect of this service for the Wanaka community is the fact that it would use the existing facilities at Wanaka Airport with no requirement to invest in additional infrastructure. We understand that many Upper Clutha residents have concerns about the prospect of their community airport becoming a busy commercial operation, but that people also recognise the clear benefits of having regular flights in and out of Wanaka. 'This service, run by our turbo-prop Pilatus PC12s, provides a ready and immediately workable solution," Mr Crawford said. The survey results ''absolutely validate what we have been hearing for the last two and a half years'', he said. ''There is a ready and enthusiastic market for this service, and strong understanding and support for the benefits it would bring.'' Of those who responded from the Upper Clutha, 87% were positive or strongly positive. Mr Crawford said the survey showed demand for services went beyond ''pure tourism usage'' with respondents listing personal, medical, business and family visits as reasons to use it. Sounds Air was ''currently working on concluding arrangements'' with Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) and Christchurch International Airport, and ''proposes to commence services from this September,'' Mr Crawford said. Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said last week the Sounds Air service could be part of discussions when the QAC's statement of intent was considered in October. 
The survey
Total responses: 3685 made up of 1446 (39%) people who live in or own a home in Wanaka, and 2234 (61%) who live outside the region. Data was collected between 23-30 June 2020 and administered by Survey Monkey.

Source : A new air service between Wanaka and Christchurch got the thumbs up from 90% of 3600 people surveyed over a week in June. Andrew Crawford. Photo: ODT files Andrew Crawford. Photo: ODT files The survey results were released by the company this afternoon with 90% ''positive'' or ''strongly positive''. Sounds Air managing director Andrew Crawford said the results showed the service would be ''embraced'' by the Wanaka community and the airline's customer base which included Christchurch residents. Sounds Air proposes using two 9-seat Pilatus PC12 turbo-prop aircraft for up to 15 return flights per week initially, with up to three services per day. The Queenstown Airport Corporation has not given its approval, saying it would not develop Wanaka Airport to introduce scheduled services until the council had completed plans and assessments. Mr Crawford has maintained no airport development was required for his service. ''It is clear from this survey that an important aspect of this service for the Wanaka community is the fact that it would use the existing facilities at Wanaka Airport with no requirement to invest in additional infrastructure. "We understand that many Upper Clutha residents have concerns about the prospect of their community airport becoming a busy commercial operation, but that people also recognise the clear benefits of having regular flights in and out of Wanaka. ''This service, run by our turbo-prop Pilatus PC12s, provides a ready and immediately workable solution," Mr Crawford said. The survey results ''absolutely validate what we have been hearing for the last two and a half years'', he said. ''There is a ready and enthusiastic market for this service, and strong understanding and support for the benefits it would bring.'' Image: supplied Image: supplied Of those who responded from the Upper Clutha, 87% were positive or strongly positive. Mr Crawford said the survey showed demand for services went beyond ''pure tourism usage'' with respondents listing personal, medical, business and family visits as reasons to use it. Sounds Air was ''currently working on concluding arrangements'' with Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) and Christchurch International Airport, and ''proposes to commence services from this September,'' Mr Crawford said. Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said last week the Sounds Air service could be part of discussions when the QAC's statement of intent was considered in October. Image: supplied Image: supplied The survey Total responses: 3685 made up of 1446 (39%) people who live in or own a home in Wanaka, and 2234 (61%) who live outside the region. Data was collected between 23-30 June 2020 and administered by Survey Monkey.

06 July 2020

How many airports don't want extended air services?



Since when did airports get so much say???

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult has backed the Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) over its decision not to approve Sounds Air’s proposed scheduled service between Wanaka Airport and Christchurch. Sounds Air managing director Andrew Crawford expressed bewilderment last week that it had not been given approval to operate its nine-seater Pilatus PC12 despite approaches over the past two and a-half years. Mr Boult said he believed QAC was "holding true to the commitment" made by it and the Queenstown Lakes District Council that no development or return of scheduled flights at Wanaka Airport would be considered until after impact assessments had been completed and appropriate planning undertaken. "That assurance is what is being honoured here in response to the community voices that requested a halt on any and all activity at Wanaka." Sounds Air is surveying Upper Clutha residents about their views on its proposed service. Mr Boult said it was important to consider the results "and see how that informs the conversation going forward". The QAC’s statement of intent, determining the actions it should take at Wanaka and Queenstown Airports, is due to be considered by the council again in October. "If there is genuine community interest and a compelling and sustainable commercial proposition, I welcome the proposed Sounds Air service being part of that discussion," Mr Boult said. The council and QAC could then look at all the information to define what happened next. Sounds Air wants to make 15 return flights to Christchurch a week.

Jetstar Restarts



Some Jetstar customers say their flights have been changed, disrupting their school holiday plans. One customer’s direct flight from Wellington to Queenstown on Thursday was redirected to include a 4.5 hour stopover in Auckland without notice, according to a post on the company’s Facebook page. “We're losing a day in [Queenstown] for a day in Auckland airport,” the customer wrote. However, a Jetstar spokesperson said its on-time performance had been close to 100 per cent. “Not only have we operated all scheduled flights, but have done so in a punctual manner.” Jetstar resumed domestic flights on Wednesday, with more than 2000 passengers booked onto scheduled flights on that day. The airline plans to operate 75 return flights per week to five destinations across the country including Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown. The majority of flights were operating between Auckland and Wellington followed by Auckland to Christchurch, Auckland to Queenstown, Christchurch to Wellington, and Auckland to Dunedin. This is around 60 per cent of the airline’s normal domestic schedule. “Our return to the skies will get more people out into communities that rely on tourism and bring a much-needed boost to local businesses,” Jetstar Group chief executive Gareth Evans said. “It also means more of our New Zealand team members are back at work, which is great news.” The airline spokesperson said thousands of bookings have been reviewed, changed or cancelled on many routes in recent times due to travel restrictions, demand and operational constraints, as well as the various barriers linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the weeks leading up to take off, some customers – those booked on the remaining 40 per cent – had their flights cancelled. Another customer, Michelle Dineen, booked flights on June 1 for a family trip to Queenstown in the upcoming school holidays. Four days after completing the booking, their flights were cancelled. “We had saved for a while and after a death in the family this was a needed break. The July holidays were the only time we could go. We had booked time off work too.” Dineen said an email sent by the airline explained that “uncertain times” forced the cancellation. She said she wasn’t given the option of applying for a refund, instead only receiving a credit. A Jetstar spokesperson was looking into Dineen’s case history to see if the circumstances allow a refund. They noted those on the spill over flights were contacted and offered a range of options. “Depending on the circumstances this may include an alternative flight at no additional charge or a refund if no alternative flight is available within three hours.” Having booked a rental car and motorhome as well as accommodation around Queenstown and the greater Otago region, Dineen had to make an “embarrassing” call to cancel. “Without the refund (close to $900) we couldn't rebook on Air New Zealand and so were forced to cancel everything. “It was so sad and embarrassing to ring up to cancel. These places needed us and our money,” she said. Prior to resuming domestic flights, Jetstar offered discounted fares. Flights from Auckland to Wellington and Auckland to Christchurch went on sale for as little as $21. Flights from Christchurch to Wellington were listed for $32. More than 15,000 bookings were made in the first 24-hours of flights going on sale.On Thursday, the airline launched its Fare Credit scheme, allowing customers to cancel bookings and receive a credit up until airport check-in opens. The scheme is available as an added expense when booking. Additional domestic routes are likely to be added in the coming months, provided demand is there.

East Coast passenger service suspended


Air Napier have suspended its scheduled passenger service between Napier and Gisborne. An announcement on the company's website says Scheduled flights have been suspended until further notice. The courier freight service does not seem to be affected.

In addition to Air Napier's freight flights from Napier to Gisborne the airline also operates charter flights to Wairoa and Gisborne in support of the Hawke's Bay District Health Board and general charter work throughout New Zealand.

04 July 2020

Motiti Island Competition


Sunair have officially announced they are offering services to Motiti Island. The island is 21 kilometres  north-east of Tauranga and 9.4 kilometres north-east of Papamoa. The service operates on demand with a round trip to the island being a flat rate of $160. The company's Facebook page says "Grab some mates and split the price. A quick 10 minutes and you'll be on the island."

This is not the first time the airline has operated to Motiti Island. In March 1990 Sunair purchased Island Air Safaris and their Cessna P206 Super Skylane ZK-DRD and took over their flights from Tauranga to Motiti Island. The operation was later sold to Island Air Services, which lasted a year or so, before it was on sold to Island Air Charter which continues to operate to Motiti Island. Sunair has  offered services at occasionally at other times.
Motiti Island

26 June 2020

Less than Enthusiastic Airport Company



The Sounds Air proposal for a Wanaka-Christchurch air service has already been delayed by more than two years. Managing director Andrew Crawford confirmed yesterday an "ongoing discussion" with the Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) — which runs Wanaka Airport for the Queenstown Lakes District Council — began two and a-half years ago. Mr Crawford said he had no idea why the QAC was unwilling to give approval. "It’s bewildering." Sounds Air wanted to add Wanaka to its network with 15 return flights to Christchurch per week, and could be operating within six weeks of being given approval. It would use a nine-seat turbo-prop Pilatus PC12 aircraft. QAC chief executive Colin Keel was not available for comment yesterday, but a statement issued by general manager corporate and community affairs Sara Irvine said the QAC "would not develop Wanaka Airport to introduce scheduled services" until the council had completed plans and assessments. That commitment was set out in the QAC’s statement of intent. Mr Crawford said his proposal did not require development at Wanaka Airport, as there were already various options available to handle passengers. Asked if he considered the proposal required a major decision on QAC’s part, Mr Crawford said, "No, it does not." Mr Crawford said he had been asked by the QAC to survey the Upper Clutha community. The survey is being promoted by the Wanaka Stakeholders Group (WSG) which supports turbo-prop services but rejects the QAC’s proposed $400 million redevelopment of Wanaka Airport for jet services. Chairman Michael Ross said yesterday the WSG was "incredibly concerned" at the delays over the Sounds Air proposal. "Here we have a situation where the QAC and the QLDC are screaming out for additional visitors ... but QAC appears to be blocking an initiative to recommence a turbo-prop service to Wanaka. The QAC statement said it looked forward to the survey results and discussing the proposal to introduce scheduled services at Wanaka Airport "in due course".

24 June 2020

Sounds Air looking at Wanaka



Sounds Air is currently considering a scheduled service between Christchurch and Wanaka, that could start almost immediately! The company is looking at operating up to fifteen return flights a week with flights every day (up to 3 per day). Flying time will be approximately 45 minutes, and fares will range from $169 to $279 each way. 

The Christchurch to Wanaka sector will be operated in their Pilatus PC12 9 seater, pressurised aircraft.  These planes cruise at up to 30 thousand feet with nine passengers who can bring 20kg of luggage each.

The airline says service can be up and running within six weeks. No additional infrastructure is required at Wanaka Airport - Sounds Air will use the existing runway, terminal building and local staff. They have aircraft on standby ready to run this service.

Sounds Air are keen to hear from as many people as possible regarding the value of this to people in the Wanaka and Christchurch regions and the broader domestic community for business or leisure travel. The survey is 100% anonymous and will only take 5 minutes to complete.

To get started please click here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/W5ZVPL5

21 June 2020

Waiheke Island Airvan Operations



Appearing on the Auckland Seaplanes Facebook page is the news that an 8 seater Airvan will be based at Waiheke Airport for the coming weeks. Michael the pilot has more than 500 hours experience flying whale watching flights in Kaikoura and thought that he had seen one of the 40+ Bryde's Whales, which are resident in the Hauraki Gulf on his flight to the island! The Airvan will be used on scenic and transfer flights.

What looks to be Wings Over Whales Airvan ZK-FSR. So I won't be seeing that at Kaikoura later in the week

20 June 2020

Sounds Air boosting flights



Sounds Air's Facebook page has announced the airline has added extra flights between Westport & Wellington and Christchurch & Blenheim to their JULY schedule!

✈️✈️

New flights include:
• Westport: TUE AM, THU AM & PM, SUN PM
• Christchurch: THU AM & PM, SUN PM

✈️✈️

Total capacity is now:
• Westport: MON/WED/THU/FRI AM & PM, TUE AM, SUN PM
• Christchurch: MON/WED/THU/FRI AM & PM and SUN PM

19 June 2020

Government Funding Assistance Package for Airlines



Sounds Air will receive government funding under a new package to keep essential transport networks alive. The top of the south airline is the first business to get support under the Essential Aviation Transport Connectivity package, in which $30 million has been allocated from the $600 million aviation relief package. There were concerns the airline would not get a cut of the aviation package, and a petition to 'Save Sounds Air' collected more than 43,000 signatures. Sounds Air chief executive Andrew Crawford said the funding was a "vote of confidence" in the airline and connectivity for the regions.The airline had been seeking Government support since New Zealand went into lockdown, but had so far only received the wage subsidy. The amount of the funding, which would not be disclosed, would contribute to costs and overheads, but was by no means the "be all and end all", Crawford said. "We fly to regions where Air New Zealand doesn't go. This is a critical lifeline to the community." Crawford said the Ministry of Transport undertook a "thorough process", and delved deep into the business and the regions to see what was required. The airline employs 65 people, including 26 pilots. It has 10 aircraft serving destinations in New Zealand that otherwise did not have an air link, such as Blenheim to Christchurch, Blenheim to Paraparaumu, Wellington to Westport and Wellington to Taupo. The move comes as the national carrier also announced today it is bracing for a $120 million loss this financial year. Sounds Air flew 115,000 customers last year. Transport Minister Phil Twyford said maintaining regional connectivity was vital for the wellbeing of New Zealanders and crucial for economic recovery. "This is for services which provide essential transport connectivity and would not continue without Government support. Transport Minister Phil Twyford said maintaining regional connectivity was vital. "Smaller airlines such as Sounds Air play an important role keeping our remote communities connected and I’m pleased to announce they are the first to receive support from this package," Twyford said. Funding from the package would support flights to the top of the south and West Coast, as well as from Wellington to Taupo. Under the terms of the support agreement, Sounds Air would fly 118 flights per week, providing links between Wellington-Blenheim, Wellington-Nelson, Blenheim-Christchurch, Wellington-Westport, and Wellington-Taupo.

17 June 2020

DAK over PPQ

Thanks to Neil who sent me this photo of the Ministry of Transport's Douglas DC-3 ZK-AXS over Paraparaumu... Now, for all the aviation history buffs, when do you think this photo was taken? It certainly is an early scheme and the airfield looks rather primitive. 


16 June 2020

Golden Bay Air sets start up date



Golden Bay Air have announced with the move to COVID-19 Level 1 their scheduled flights and shuttles will resume on Monday 29th of June. From the 29th Golden Bay Air will operate 5 flights a week increasing to 11 flights a week over summer. The Wellington flights will operate on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. Flights are also being operated between Takaka, Karamea and Nelson.

GB Weekly 19 June 2020

After the resumption of Golden Bay Air's services only Jetstar will remain grounded. It intends recommencing operations on the 1st of July 2020. 



15 June 2020

Remember the days...

Remember the days...

When Christchurch had a viewing deck...
When Christchurch had regular Boeing 747 flights...
When Christchurch saw Coast Air flying into it.

Thanks to Alistair for this great photo!

Coast Air's DHC Twin Otter ZK-OTR being refuelled at Christchurch probably in late 1986. In the background Air NZ Boeing 747 ZK-NZX and Qantas Boeing 747 VH-EBH 

14 June 2020

The National Carrier's Hamilton International Service




Air New Zealand took over Freedom Air's international services to Hamilton on the 31st of March 2009. This was the first time the national carrier had flown international services through Hamilton and these trans-Tasman services were only to last for 13 months. On the day of the take over Air New Zealand was operating eight weekly flights to and from Hamilton, three flights per week to Sydney, two flights per week to Coolangatta, and three flights per week to Brisbane. 


In June 2009 Air New Zealand realised it had to respond to the continued high cost of fuel and changes in demand. This included fare increases and timetable changes. Air New Zealand's Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe said, “As a small, nimble operator we have the benefit of being able to quickly adjust schedules to maintain a cost effective operation that ensures capacity meets current demand in the markets we serve. We are not immune to changes in demand and sky-rocketing fuel costs.” To that end Air New Zealand made a number of tactical network changes which included reducing the number of flights between Hamilton and Sydney will reduce from three to two per week between August and November 2009.

On the 6th of October 2009 Air New Zealand announced it would suspend services between Hamilton and Sydney and the Gold Coast during the traditionally lower demand period from the 29th of March to the 24th of October 2009. In addition to this the flights from Hamilton to Brisbane were to be reduced from three flights a week to two flights a week due to weak demand and an oversupply of trans-Tasman capacity from Auckland. Air New Zealand's General Manager for the Tasman and Pacific, Glen Sowry, said, “This decision is part of Air New Zealand’s ongoing review of its network to ensure we operate a sustainable business through the current global economic downturn which is seeing airlines suffer, and in many cases fail, the world over. We certainly regret having to suspend the three times per week service to Sydney and twice a week service to the Gold Coast. However, with poor load factors, equally poor yield and high fuel costs, we cannot afford to fly routes that lose money in the current economic environment. “Quite simply, Waikato residents are not travelling like they used to, or are choosing to travel through Auckland Airport. The Hamilton – Sydney route for example has operated less than half full over the past six months. That’s the equivalent of operating more than 60 empty A320 flights on the Sydney route alone. “Efforts to stimulate demand with significantly lower average fares compared to the rest of the Tasman network have not had the required affect. “In addition, the glut in trans-Tasman capacity from Auckland is cannibalising the Hamilton services as many of those travelling to Australia from the Waikato appear to be flying from Auckland.”

The announcement came as a major blow for the Hamilton International Airport which had recently upgraded its airport terminal. The Waikato Times revealed at the weekend international passengers numbers were down 15.8 percent (a reduction from 104,000 to 87,000) for the year to June 30.  

However, even before the Coolangata and Sydney flights were suspended more news came. On the 30th of January 2009 Air New Zealand announced it was axing all its trans-Tasman flights out of Hamilton from the 25th of April 2009. Airline general manager for Tasman Pacific, Glen Sowry said Air New Zealand "regretted having to suspend the service" but weak demand meant it was no longer viable. An "oversupply" of trans-Tasman flights from Auckland was having a direct impact on the Hamilton services. This "oversupply" that Sowry mentioned will get even worse for the airline from next Monday, when Emirates Airline's latest plane will start flying into Auckland. Because it is much larger than Emirates' existing planes an extra 1200 seats a week will be added to the hotly-contested Tasman route. It has allowed it to offer Sydney return including taxes for less than $300. Sowry said the airline's Hamilton-Brisbane service was "suffering from poor load factors and equally poor yield. "Loadings on our Hamilton-Brisbane service have averaged 58 per cent over the past three months. In that time, we have flown the equivalent of 32 empty A320 aircraft between Hamilton and Brisbane. That is clearly unsustainable, and in the current environment we cannot afford to fly routes that make substantial losses with no forecast improvement." The yield earned by the airline on the flights was also poor, with 94 per cent of fares sold being low earning sale or "smart saver" fares. "Recent improvements to the road between Hamilton and Auckland also appear to be encouraging Waikato residents to drive to Auckland to take their Tasman flights. This has been compounded by a massive increase in competition on Tasman services out of Auckland with additional low cost carrier capacity and new wide-body capacity, creating an incredibly competitive market and great deals for the travelling public."

One local official called for a ban on Air New Zealand, accusing Air New Zealand of "manipulating a decline" in the Waikato market by cutting flights down to two a week from a peak of 15, making travel from Hamilton less convenient, and offering cheaper flights from Auckland. "If the airline had any commitment whatsoever to the region it would have offered those same low fares in the regional market." The Air New Zealand website offers Brisbane airfares out of Auckland at $200 lower per return flight, a cut of 35 per cent.

Air New Zealand responded saying that the average fare out of Hamilton had been lower than for any other Tasman port. "Ninety four per cent of seats sold out of Hamilton were sale fares or lowest level smart saver. The number of cheap seats was considerably higher than cheap seats out of any other transtasman port."


Air New Zealand Airbus 320 ZK-OJM at Hamilton in 2011... The photo is 'borrowed' from Awesome in NZ's Flickr page, see https://www.flickr.com/photos/49222841@N06/. If you know who Awesome in NZ is and how to contact him can you let me know.

The following week the Waikato Times reported that Air New Zealand had cancelled 11 of its remaining flights between Sydney and Hamilton. While Air New Zealand still claims to operate two return services a week between Hamilton and Sydney, Waikato Times inquiries found the scheduled Air New Zealand return service between Hamilton and Sydney will not operate on February 9 and 23 and March 23 and 27. And Sydney to Hamilton sector flights have been cancelled on February 13 and 20, and March 13. That is a total of 11 flights. An airline spokeswoman said the cancellations were due either to "unplanned capacity reduction" or amendments to the Tasman schedule. She said the decision to amend the schedule was determined in part by low bookings from Hamilton a less than 10 per cent booked load factor (fewer than 15 customers) on the cancelled services.

The final Air New Zealand international services to Hamilton were operated on the 30th of April 2012

13 June 2020

Air Chathams' Freighter

Arriving into Auckland on 7 June 2020 was Convair 580 ZK-KFL operating a freight flight from Christchurch ... note to Air Chathams - get the painted nose cone back on