08 August 2010

The Colours of Metros in Hokitika - 4

When Air Nelson commenced services to the West Coast in OCtober 1988 the link between Westport and Hokitika was cut meaning Westport people wanting to travel to Christchurch or further south had to fly via Wellington while Hokitika people wanting to travel to the North Island had to fly via Christchurch.

In July 1990 an announcement was made that the through links from Hokitika to Wellington via Westport and from Westport to Christchurch via Hokitika were to be reintroduced from the 6th of August 1990. The extra flights were made possible by the addition of a sixth Metroliner. Robert Inglis, Air Nelson's managing director, told the West Coast Times that the new flights "indicate the commitment we have to providing a high frequency service to this region. The support Air Nelson services have received from Westland has been encouraging and we trust this will continue for our major schedule change."

West Coast Times, 3 September 1990

The timetable was, however, not entirely satisfatctory. The latest departure out of Hokitika was 4.15pm, which meant passengers from Greymouth had to leave that town before 3.00pm to catch their flight. Also  three flights were scheduled to deaprt from Hokitika within 1 hour 50 minutes of each other in the afternoon. It was not surprising, therefore, that the timetable was not a success. In announcing that the service would end on the 9th of February 1991, Air Nelson's commercial manager, Noel Gillespie, said patronage of the flight was too low and it was no longer economic to keep it going. He noted that there were usually only 2 or 3 passengers on the flight between Westport and Hokitika, with sometimes none at all. A Westport travel agent said low patronage had sometimes occurred when the Hokitika-Christchurch section of the flight was heavily booked, meaning Westport travellers could, not get seats.

While the flights were operating, however, two sight of Metroliners sitting at Hokitika made an impressive picture! 

Metros ZK-NSU (left) and ZK-NSY (right) at Hokitika on 8 August 1990. Photo : S Lowe

In more recent times Eagle Air tried linking Westport and Christchurch with two flights each way on both Mondays and Fridays but this too failed... see http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2009/12/30-dec-2009-air-new-zealand-announce.html

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