23 February 2010

Newmans Air - Taking on Mount Cook

The March 1985 issue of NZ Wings gives a great introduction to this profile on Newmans Air... Whoever selected the (Newmans) company logo, some years ago now, was certainly farsighted - Pegasus, the flying horse of Greek legend. Newmans have been moving people around for over 100 years, from small beginnings as a South Island mail coach run in 1879. Today the name is an umbrella term for a group that has corporate fingers in a number of pies - coach tours, freight, minerals, timber, horticulture, marine resources and, now, the airline business. In 1983-1984 the various divisions in Newmans group employed over 1700 people, utilised assets of $111 million and had total earnings of $135 million; well placed as the country's largest inbound tour operator to now reach for the skies. The company isn't entirely without an aviation background; Sir Jack Newman in his early days as head of what was a private company, was a member of the first committee of the Nelson Aero Club in 1932 and also helped establish Cook Strait Airways in 1937. This is the Newmans Air story...

In 1983 there was a concerted effort by the Nelson-based TNL Group and Air New Zealand to take over the Mount Cook Group. The group, which was largely involved in transport, also operated Newmans Tours, a competitor of the Mount Cook Group's own tour company.Mount Cook was not happy about the TNL proposal and in full-page advertisements in the national newspapers Mount Cook said it did not want "this unique company to become yet another autonomous division of a large trucking company. We have never settled for less and we are not about to start now. 

On the 1st of June 1984, after its take over bid had been rebuffed, the TNL Group had applied to establish its own airline.  Managing Director Garth Butler told the media that the application was made possible by a change in the air licensing regulations. Details at this stage were scarce, with TNL declining to give any details, but Les Bloxham, the long time travel editor of The Press, suggested that the service was likely to fly between Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch, Glentanner (Mount Cook), and Queenstown with two De Havilland-7 four-engine turbo-prop aircraft.

On the 11th of June adverts appeared in the major newspapers detailing An application by TNL Group Limited (trading as "Newmans Airlines"), to operate a Category A air transport service over the following routes: 
(a) Winter:
(I) Auckland to Queenstown and return via Rotorua, Christchurch, and Glentanner.
(II) Christchurch, Rotorua, Auckland and return; Christchurch, Glentanner, Queenstown and return.
(b) Summer:
(I) Auckland - Rotorua Christchurch.
(II) Christchurch Rotorua - Auckland; 
with a fleet of two De Havilland DHC-7 Dash 7 Series 102 aircraft.

By the end of June 1984 more details on the new airline were being made known. The Nelson Evening Mail of the 27th of June 1984 reported that the TNL order for the two de Havilland Canada Dash 7s, plus spares, is worth just under $US20 million in New Zealand currency, at today's values, the deal is worth about $31 million. The sale is subject to the TNL Group being granted an airline licence... The two TNL aircraft were in the initial stages of construction and would be ready for delivery in December.  

TNL chairman, Peter Grayburn, said the company was now looking for suitably qualified staff including 12 pilots. "Mr Grayburn visited three airlines operating Dash-7s including Hawaiian Airlines and Rocky Mountain Airlines of Denver, Colorado. "Those airlines place great emphasis on tourism. The high wing and seat placement in a Dash-7 means excellent viewing for passengers. That makes it an extremely satisfactory aircraft for uses to which TNL intends to put it." Mr Grayburn said TNL looked at other aircraft including the Hawker Siddeley 748 (flown by Mount Cook). But the HS-748 was a low wing aircraft, which meant a third of the passengers were denied a view. Another important factor, particularly for TNL's future development of air routes, was the Dash-7's short take off and landing capabilities... 

The report also gave details of the two submissions received about the application with give a good insight into the revised licensing procedures. The Air Services Licensing Authority in Wellington has received two submissions (objections are not permitted under the deregulated licensing procedures) on the application by TNL. One was from the Lands and Survey Department in Christchurch and the other was from Mount Cook Airlines. A spokesman for Lands and Survey said from Christchurch the department’s involvement was probably because part of the Glentanner station a proposed landing site for the TNL airline is crown land leased for pastoral purposes. The deadline for the receiving of comments was Monday. The two submissions have now been sent to TNL. A report expected to be completed by the Civil Aviation Division to the Ministry of Transport will next week, will also be sent to the applicant. The applicant has seven days to comment on these papers. It was expected by a licensing authority spokesman today that the application would be considered in the week beginning July 9. If the decision was favourable, a licence would be typed out immediately and sent to the applicant along with the decision.

Even as late as November 1984 the Newmans Group was still lamenting the merger with Mount Cook Group. It would have been in the interests of both New Zealand's two largest tourist companies and the nation if the companies had merged early this year, the chairman of TNL, Mr Peter Grayburn, told the annual meeting yesterday. Mr Grayburn rued the failure of TNL, renamed Newmans Group, Ltd, at the meeting, to get the assent of either the Mount Cook directors or the Examiner of Commercial Practices to the merger at its annual meeting. "The services of Newmans and Mount Cook were, and still are, completely complementary and would be supportive of each other, in the interests of both the combined group of shareholders and the nation." 

By December 1984 the construction of a new hangar was well underway in Christchurch but environmental objections were threatening the plans to fly to Glentanner, near Mount Cook. The existing airstrip at Glentanner was unsuitable for the Dash-7 aircraft and the company proposed to build a new 890-metre sealed runway running parallel to the Tasman River but construction could not begin until the "half dozen" objections had been heard and approval was given by the Land Settlement Committee. 

On the 22nd of December 1984 the first de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7 ZK-NEW arrived in Nelson after a 9000 mile delivery flight from the de Havilland factory in Toronto, Canada. Several hundred people watched as the plane circled over the city and made two low level passes over the runway before finally touching down. Over the next six weeks it was kept busy doing crew training and familiarisation flights.

Newmans Air's first DHC Dash 7 in Christchurch on 3 January 1985 soon after its delivery flight. 

ZK-NEW on display at the Wings and Wheels show at Wigram on 27 January 1985.

The second Dash 7, ZK-NEX, arrived in New Zealand in early February 1985 in ready for the launch of services. The April 1985 National Business Review carried an interesting piece on the Newmans Air Dash 7s. De Havilland Canada, which is Canadian Government-owned, had ceased to make the Dash 7 after 100 units. However, the Canadian Government agreed that the line should be reopened, and unit 101 was Newmans' first plane. No 102 was a Canadian Government plane designed for arctic research, and 103 the second Newmans plane. An interesting sidelight of the Newmans order was that it regenerated demand for the Dash 7. De Havilland has produced 33 of them since re-opening the line, and is planning a modified version. 

Newmans Air's second Dash 7, ZK-NEX at Christchurch on 17 August 1985

Another of Newmans Air's innovative features was the connections it was making. The same issue of the National Business Review reported that the Newmans Group is discussing with the major hotel chains a package deal to promote New Zealand to New Zealanders. The package deal would include flights, coaches, and hotel accommodation. And the airline, which has joined IATA, is also looking at linkages with the smaller third level airlines. "We've spoken to six or seven," McDonald said. "We're looking to provide a complete service for the tourist. "For example, we're making an arrangement so that tourists can fly on to Te Anau from Queenstown. Rotorua is an area that could be the hub of a system." At the Newmans Air launch in Rotorua in February Peter Grayburn said he had been approached by representatives from Whangarei, who had asked if the airline would service the city. Grayburn was careful to emphasise that Newmans was not in competition with Air New Zealand. It appears that thinking may be changing. McDonald said they could be looking at servicing Wellington within 12 months, and would look at other cities. He said, however, Newmans did not intend to compete with Air New Zealand on the main trunk routes.

The company’s first scheduled flights began on 13 February 1985, using the two De Havilland Canada Dash-7 aircraft, ZK-NEW, named "Uenuku" and ZK-NEX, named "Kopako". The initial timetable saw two daily northbound services from Christchurch to Rotorua, one extending further north to Auckland, and three southbound services from Christchurch to Queenstown. The Glentanner (Mount Cook) airfield was not ready when services began due to delays with the Land Settlement Board approvals and then with the Civil Aviation Division.  

The original Newmans Air timetable, effective 12 February 1985

The issues with the use of Glentanner were eventually overcome and from the 19th of March 1985 Newmans Air flights to and from Queenstown began to call at Glentanner (Mount Cook). Two southbound flights from Christchurch landed at Glentanner and one northbound. 

Glentanner added to the network. Newmans Air timetable effective 15 March 1985

At the time of the launch of services the airline’s chief executive, Mr Ken McDonald, foresaw a third Dash 7 and including Nelson on their network. He told the Christchurch Press he estimated Newmans Air would have captured 50 per cent of the available market by June 1986 and that they were aiming to get 70 per cent of the market in the long term. The March 1985 issue of NZ Wings expanded on the choice of the Dash 7... Newmans Air initial routes do not reflect the Dash 7's expensive STOL capabilities, apart from the Glentanner strip near Mount Cook. Instead the thinking includes a second stage, once the airline has established a level of demand, of utilising the Dash 7s to reach into such locations as Wanaka, Te Anau and the West Coast as feederliners contributing to a main trunk service flown by aircraft such as the DC-9 or BAe 146. Peter Grayburn told the Newmans annual meeting that the airline would not be putting together the calibre of staff it has recruited if it only intended to operate two aircraft. The vision of a new airline certainly grabbed the imagination of many, applications for positions in the new venture well outnumbering the 128 jobs created. Over 400 aircrew applied for 22 seats and over 600 applied for 20 positions as cabin attendants (no men made the grade). The captains are all old hands on the Dash 7 while the co-pilot appointments probably caused a manpower shortage on the RNZAF's No. 40 Squadron. Flight operations manager is Captain Wesley Stratton, a 30,000 hour veteran with experience stretching back into wartime bomber cockpits, He came to the airline after seven years with Brymon Airways, flying Dash 7s around Britain and across to France. Further expertise came in the form of managing director Ken McDonald, previously Trans Australia Airlines manager in New South Wales. He was one of 2000 airline management possibilities checked out by Newman's consultants. Former Brymon cabin services controller Jan Davies came out of retirement in Bermuda on a four month contract to supervise and train the new cabin staff. Orchestrating the initial planning was Eric Peter, Newmans special project manager, in company with flight operations consultant Dave Hannon. Dave Hannon had been instrumental in establishing Brymon Airways with New Zealand racing driver Chris Amon... 

Newman's Garth Butler believes that there is room for both Mount Cook and Newmans Air on parallel tourist routes, noting that unsatisfied demand last year was 30 per cent. In line with Mount Cook Line, he considers that the major limiting factor to growth is the accommodation bottlenecks of Christchurch and Queenstown. Over $50 million has been invested by the Newmans group in giving their horse wings. Company management are forecasting that the airline will be in profit within its second year of operation. An annual utilisation of more than 3000 hours per aircraft is expected, with around 100,000 passengers carried by early 1986. It remains to be seen whether tourism will grow to provide two strongly independent tourist operators with a good return over competing routes. 

On the 5th of March 1985 it was announced that Newmans Air was assessing the suitability of Ashburton airfield as another possible destination to fly skiers from the nearby Mount Hutt skifield to Queenstown. At this time the airline was into its fourth week of commercial service. Ken McDonald, Newmans Air's chief executive told The Press, the company was satisfied with passenger loads and forward bookings. "Bookings. are better than we had anticipated and we are now running at a load factor of about 29 per cent," said Mr McDonald. "Some flights next month are already fully booked." The airline is marketing overseas a "See New Zealand" fare which offers a 30 per cent discount for foreign tourists. Mr McDonald said that a group of Americans had written to the company to say the inflight service was the best they had experienced in years. The company is currently negotiating to secure a lease of a third Dash 7 for the 1985-86 peak season.

The timetable from the 1st of June showed a slight reshuffling of flights. The frequency of flights to Queenstown were reduced from three to two flights per day while the aircraft that overnighted at Rotorua now overnighted at Auckland meaning Auckland had two flights per day. Newmans Air were keen to develop feeder services and from the 1st of June 1985 two feeder services were operated between Queenstown and Wanaka and Queenstown and Te Anau. 

Aspiring Air commenced a seven-day a week service between Wanaka and Queenstown to connect with Newmans Air’s flights at Queenstown using their Cessna aircraft. The flights appeared in Newmans Air’s timetable and carried ZQ flight numbers. The 20-minute flight operated twice a day, depending on traffic and a one-way ticket to Christchurch cost $161 one way to Christchurch - $3 more than the direct Queenstown-Christchurch flight. This air service also operated under visual flight rules. On fine days the flights would fly direct to Queenstown above Cadrona, while on murky days the aircraft would fly down the Clutha River to Cromwell and then proceed through the Kawerau Gorge to Queenstown.

On the same day and in the same way Waterwings Airways' entered into an agreement with Newmans Air to offer feeder services between Queenstown and Te Anau. In Newmans Air's timetable of 1 June 1985 a daily flight was offered from Te Anau to Queenstown at 8.15am and a return flight departing at 1.40pm. The flights were timed to meet Newmans Air Dash 7 flights to and from Christchurch.  From the 1985/86 summer the Newmans Air schedule showed Waterwings Airways operating two flights each day between the two centres. These flights all operated with Newmans Air ZQ flight numbers but the timetable did not indicate that the service was a feeder service operated in the Milford Sound Scenic Flights' Cessna 207s. 

From Newmans Air's timetable effective 1 June 1985, with flights from Queenstown to both Wanaka and Te Anau

On the 1st of June 1985 Wellington's Evening Post reported that the fledgling Newmans Air service has completed its first three months in the skies with management claiming better than expected results — but with other people doubting there is room for two competing tourist airlines. Mount Cook Airlines, who fly the same routes as Newmans taking in Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch, Mount Cook and Queenstown, say they have been unaffected by the arrival of the new airline and report solid bookings into this month — traditionally the start of a slow period. Newmans say they are achieving around 60 percent loadings on flights between Christchurch and Auckland — but things are not going as well further south. The Newmans Air chief executive, Mr Ken McDonald, says the fairly light bookings on the Mount Cook/Queenstown route will only be temporary until the ski season gets under way. He says from evidence of advanced bookings, loadings will lift to about 60 percent — which is what the airline needs to break even. Contrary to what many have expected, the Newmans flights have been attracting a large number of domestic passengers — but Mr McDonald says it is becoming known and accepted overseas as well. "It looks like we will have quite a buoyant year," he says. When Newmans Air was first being developed it was said the Newmans company could bear losses on the venture for about two or three years, "We won't have losses for that long," Mr McDonald now says. "We just have to wait for the tourist season and we will be right. We didn't expect profits from the first day." But opinions are divided as to whether two airlines can run side by side profitably on the country's tourist routes. Mr McDonald says with expected growth in New Zealand's tourist industry there is enough scope for both Newmans and Mount Cook. 

Meanwhile Dash 7 ZK-NEX landed at Ashburton on a charter flight on the 17th of April 1985. Scheduled flights through Ashburton on the 17th of July 1985. On Wednesdays and Thursdays the early flight, instead of stopping at Glentanner, landed at Ashburton for 15 minutes before continuing on to Queenstown. There were no northbound stops, as most overseas skiers wanted to return direct to Christchurch or Auckland to connect with international flights. At the launch of the Ashburton service Mr Ken McDonald said that regular flights would soon be going to Wanaka and Te Anau if their air strips were upgraded to take the Dash 7. The twice weekly Ashburton flights continued until the ski season until the 26th of September 1985. They were not repeated again the following year. 

Newmans Air's first scheduled Dash 7 flight to Ashburton on 17 July 1985. Source : The Press

Ashburton in Newmans Air's timetable effective 1 June 1985 

Newmans Air's air routes as at 17 July 1985

By August 1985, the airlines had passed its six months mark. Speaking to the NZ Times the chief executive, Mr Ken McDonald said "We set our sights high, aiming for around 60 per cent loadings in the first six months and we've only just fallen short of that figure." Loadings are steady at around 52 per cent though a number of flights in the next two months are already waitlisted, a very healthy sign for any airline, let alone one only just starting to market in overseas areas where most of their potential customers are to be found. "We have depended to a large extent on the domestic market that is available on the tourist routes and have been surprised with what demand there is for flights, however we are now beginning to market extensively in areas like North America, Asia and Australia." He says it takes at least 18 months to get results from marketing in these areas, but even after a very short campaign results are beginning to show. The lack of early season snow in the South Island caused some concern in May and June. "We were aware we would have to depend on a good ski season to bring loadings up this year but next year will be a whole new ball game." 

While the various group executives worry themselves with the future of the existing airlines in this country Ken McDonald is more concerned at making his airline work more effectively. Newmans, formerly the TNL group, were fully aware that you can't set up an airline by trial and error.  The only trial was in ascertaining the flight times on the Auckland-Queenstown route. "A number of our pilots had never flown in the Southern Alps region before they started with us and to allow them to become familiar with the area we allowed up to 30 minutes on some sectors," McDonald says. The airline is now preparing its summer schedule and all the inflight times are being tightened considerably in a move McDonald believes will make them even more competitive. "We were criticised for being slower in the air than our competitors, but with the new schedules we will be quicker on some routes." He proudly points out that in the first six months of operation the airline has been on time 96 per cent of the flights. Initially the airline limited itself to the traditional tourist route of Auckland-Rotorua-Christchurch-Mount Cook-Queenstown. However, it has already introduced an early morning skier special from Ashburton to Queenstown to cater for enthusiastic skiers who don't wish to miss a day's skiing. "The average overseas skier wants to be able to ski every day he or she is in this country and at the moment a whole day is lost in getting from Mount Hutt to Queenstown by bus, so we opened this new route and it has proved extremely viable." Newmans are now looking at several new landing sites including Ludgate near Wanaka and an area close to Mount Ruapehu. Last week, executives of the company visited the Ruapehu area and believe they may have found a suitable site near National Park but more research has to be done on the terrain. There is no intention of expanding the fleet of two Dash 7 aircraft, till late next year. "We are able to operate successfully at the moment with the two aircraft and I don't see any reason why we should rush in and order more aircraft till we have properly evaluated the routes and potential routes." McDonald is confident that the predictions he made before the launching of the airline will still stand at the end of the first year of operation.

In August 1985 Les Bloxham from The Press reviewed a Newmans Air flight...

Flight ZQ121; August 11, Rotorua to Christchurch.
Aircraft: de Havilland Dash 7.
Scheduled departure: 4.30 p.m.
Actual departure: 4.31 p.m.
Scheduled Arrival: 6.45 p.m.
Actual Arrival: 6.31 p.m.
Time in air: 1hr 55min.
Cruising altitude: 16,000ft.
Altitude wind: 10 knots (head).
Total seats available: 50.
Seats filled: 45.
Cabin attendants: two. (Some inflight assistance was also given by the airline's controller of cabin services who flew this sector to make a six-monthly check of one of the duty hostesses.)

Two phone calls were made to the airline's reservations number in Christchurch before the flight. Both were answered promptly and courteously. At Rotorua, check-in formalities were completed with polite efficiency and without delay. Passengers were individually welcomed on board and shown to their seats by the cabin crew who also assisted with the storage of hand baggage in overhead lockers. I found the seats, which have lambs-wool covers, comfortable with adequate leg space and an unobstructed area underneath for my feet. A safety card, airline magazine, and timetable were in the seat pocket. Pre-flight safety announcements were clear and easy to follow with one hostess standing at the front of the cabin indicating procedures and the locality of the emergency exits. Signs in the cabin were in English and Japanese. Passengers were offered an excellent selection of magazines immediately after take-off, followed by a choice of fruit juice (feijoa or grapefruit). The food service began 25 minutes into the flight. ·Plastic trays and cups with sealed sleeves containing knife, fork, spoons, salt, pepper, sugar and serviette were distributed. Passengers were then offered a choice of generously stacked open sandwiches from a tray - pork, beef or vegetarian. I opted for pork and received a 10cm by 10cm slice of whole-grain bread bearing 4cm of sliced meat attractively garnished with lettuce, pineapple, tomato, carrot, red pepper, cucumber and radish. (On north-bound flights salad rolls, slices of cake and chocolate mints are served). Tea and coffee were followed by offerings from a fruit tray - apples, kiwi, tamarillos, and segments of orange - and a cheese tray with crackers and superb cheese balls. Made with cream cheese and grated cheddar flavoured with onion, gherkin, and parsley rolled in crushed nuts, these little delicacies are produced specially for the airline by its Rotorua caterers, Glenis and Ray Robinson. Trays were cleared and hot towels handed out about 45 minutes before landing. Three informative announcements were made from the flight-deck on route. A hostess responded promptly to my call button, but was unable to meet my request for an Air New Zealand timetable. The lavatory at the rear of the .aircraft was clean and easily accessible. Boiled lollies were offered before landing and luggage was available on the carousel nine minutes after the aircraft's arrival at the gate. 

I was lucky enough to fly Christchurch-Rotorua, Rotorua-Auckland and Auckland-Christchurch on Newmans Air

In late November Newmans was also looking at smaller aircraft in the form of the Dash 8 or ATR 42. Ken McDonald said it was not true that the Dash 7s were too big. "Over the last two or three months loadings have been incredibly good. We just need more aircraft that provide a more efficient operation." Newmans planned a more flexible service with three new aircraft to replace the present two Dash 7s. A decision on keeping the 7s or replacing them would be made "in the near future". The ATR and Dash 8 were not available when Newmans was in the market for new planes and represented the most modern of aviation technology. In the first four and a half months of service to the 30th of June 1985, the airline had returned a loss of $2,542,000. 

Dash 7 ZK-NEX at the end of the day on 10 December 1986

By early 1986 Newmans was looking for new aircraft and a partner and by April 1986 the speculation was the favoured option would be with Ansett Airlines of Australia and that Dash 8’s would replace the Dash 7’s. In May it was confirmed that two de Havilland Canada Dash 8s had been ordered. In July 1986 the Government gave Ansett permission to purchase half of Newmans Air with Brierley Investments buying a further 30 per cent. By this stage the company had lost over $ 5 million since beginning in February 1985. Their position was not helped by Air New Zealand taking over Mount Cook Airlines in 1985.

What might have been but what wasn't...  An artist's impression of the Dash 8 in full Newmans colours

On the 20th of August 1986 it was announced that the Newmans-Ansett-Brierley consortium had been granted Government approval to start flying Boeing 737s in direct competition with Air New Zealand in early 1987. The airline yesterday received its take-off clearance after agreeing to conditions laid down by the Government which included the establishing of a fully equipped maintenance base in Christchurch. The decision assured the survival of Newmans Air. 

On the 11th of November 1986 it was announced that the consortium's airline would operate as Ansett New Zealand. It was later reported that Newmans and Brierley - the two New Zealand partners in the consortium - wanted to retain “Newmans” in the name of the domestic airline, according to informed sources. Ansett New Zealand’s chief executive, Mr Ross Keenan denied it had been a matter of dispute, but he confirmed that factors leading to the final choice — Ansett New Zealand — had been discussed by the board at great length. “Ansett is firmly associated world-wide as an airline of high quality,” he said. "This is the image we want to project for Ansett New Zealand.” Mr Keenan said the name would appear in full on its aircraft and would not be abbreviated in any way. He said that the Newmans identity would be retained on the new de Havilland Dash-8 aircraft which would fly the tourist routes. These would initially carry the name “Ansett-Newmans” and retain the Newmans now familiar Pegasus symbol on the tail fins.

In October 1986 an application was made to Air Services Licensing Authority by Bilmans Management Ltd (trading as "Newmans-Ansett"), to conduct a Category "A" air transport service between Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch, Glentanner and Queenstown with two De Havilland DHC-8 Dash 8 Series 100 aircraft. This was granted on the 30th of November 1986. By this time plans were well advanced for Ansett New Zealand's proposed Christchurch-Wellington-Auckland service which was to use four revamped Boeing 737-100 aircraft.

The first Dash 8, ZK-NEY, which was later named "Queenstown", departed Toronto on the 4th of December 1986 and flew via Greenland, Iceland, Britain, Australia, Crete, Egypt, Bahrain, Muscat, Bombay, Calcutta, Bangkok, Singapore, Bali, Darwin, Mount Isa, Brisbane, and Lord Howe Island to arrive in Christchurch on 15th of December sporting "Ansett Newmans" titles. ZK-NEY, named Queenstown, entered service on Christmas Day 1986 replacing Dash 7 ZK-NEW. The Ansett Newmans name was more a title in name only and was rarely used.

The end of a long ferry flight, DHC Dash 8 ZK-NEY on short finals for runway 29 at Christchurch on 15 December 1985

Ex ZK-NEW -  Eurocity Express Dash 7 G-BNDC is pushed out of the Air New Zealand paint hangar at Christchurch on 28 January 1987 being readied for departure to the UK

The second Dash 8, ZK-NEZ, named "Rotorua", arrived on the 6th of January 1987 travelling through Goose Bay, Greenland,- Manchester, Venice, Egypt, Bahrain, Bombay, Calcutta, Bangkok, Singapore, Bali, Darwin, Mount Isa, Brisbane, and Lord Howe Island. Captain Wayne Mills, of Newmans, made the delivery flight with First Officer Ken Troon and Flight Engineer David Jelly. The aircraft started service on the 19th of January 1987. 

Ansett Newmans' titles were seen in one other places beyond the two Dash 8s. Newmans Air's  timetable which was rebranded as Ansett New Zealand from the 1st of February 1987 but it depicted a Dash 8 with Newmans Air's colours and titles. This timetable from that date also included feeder flights between Queenstown and Milford Sound, these being operated by Waterwings Airways' Nomad aircraft 

Ansett New Zealand branding on the timetable effective 1 February 1987 with the previous Newmans Air colours and titles on the Dash 8 which it never wore. 

On the 1st of February 1987 non-stop Dash 8 flights were introduced between Auckland and Christchurch. The flights left Christchurch at 6.10 p.m. arriving in Auckland at 7.55 p.m. and left Auckland at 5.45 p.m. arriving in Christchurch at 7.35 p.m. The Press reported the first flights were full in both directions.

Rare Ansett Newmans branding on this advert from the Press, 4 February 1987

Meanwhile the two Dash 7s were painted in the colours of British operator Eurocity Express prior to their departure for the UK.

The end of the day - Ansett Newmans' second Dash 8, ZK-NEZ at the Newmans' hangar on 26 January 1986

On the 25th of July 1987 Ansett New Zealand began operating three Boeing 737-100 aircraft between Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. While Newmans Air had taken on Mount Cook Airlines, Ansett New Zealand was to take on Air New Zealand.  This move marked the end of Ansett Newmans and the Newmans' Pegasus flying New Zealand skies.

My ride back to Christchurch... Ansett Newmans' Dash 8 ZK-NEY at Rotorua on 25 March 1987. 

Even though it was March 1987 the boarding passes were for Ansett New Zealand rather than Ansett Newmans

Ansett Newmans' de Havilland Canada Dash 8, ZK-NEZ at Queenstown on 24 October 1987


  1. Do you know when the flights to Ashburton were dropped? Did Ansett ever fly to Ashburton?

  2. The Ashburton flights were only scheduled from 17 July to 26 September 1985. These were not repeated the following winter. Ansett never flew into Ashburton

  3. I remember flying (paxing) in the -7 to ZQN via Mt Cook and only shutting down the LH engines at Mt Cook. Slow trip!!