26 September 2010

Air Express - Linking Central Otago to Dunedin

In 1988 Mr John M. Kelly (operating as Air Express) of Arrowtown applied to the Air Services Licensing Authority for an air services licence to operate a twice-daily air service between Queenstown and Dunedin with stops at Wanaka and Alexandra on demand. At this time Mount Cook Airlines was also operating on this route. Their flight departed Queenstown at 1.35pm and Alexandra at 2.05pm with the return service departing Dunedin at 3.15pm making it unsuitable for anyone wanting to conduct business in Dunedin or Central Otago. Pacifica Air was also operating flights out of Wanaka and Alexandra to Christchurch.

On the 24th of May 1988 the Central Otago News reported that a new freight and passenger air service is being set up to link Queenstown and Dunedin also stopping at Wanaka and Alexandra on demand... The company will operate flying a Cessna 206 six seater (ZK-JMK) and a Cardinal 177 four seater (ZK-DKL). The company also has thoughts of obtaining a Britten Norman Islander in the future if the service prospers. Chief pilot for the service is Mr Denis Thew who has 14 years service on Mount Cook Airlines, recently retiring from the Queenstown Dunedin route. Mr Kelly will act as the other pilot although there is access to back up pilots and planes if business requires it. Mr Kelly said the company was keen to promote the freight side of the business and will offer a door to door delivery within the business area in Dunedin. The company will also be offering a charter service for parties wishing to fly anywhere in the country. He said that the passenger and freight rates the company were proposing would be at least competitive with other air carriers and some services would be cheaper. Gourleys Pharmacy will act as Alexandra agents tor the service. 

Two days later a report on sealing the Alexandra airport's runway indication the Air Express service had started.

Central Otago News, 24 May 1988

The Air Express printed timetable

The service was advertised in the Central Otago News until the 22nd of September 1988 and  presumably traffic was insufficient and so the air service withdrawn sometime after this.

Central Otago News, 22 September 1988

PEOPLE: Included-

John M. Kelly, owner of Cessna U206G Stationair ZK-JMK
Denis Thew, pilot

AIRCRAFT: Included-

ZK-JMK Cessna U206G Stationair (c/n: 206-0366) - owned by J.M. Kelly.
Photo taken at Ardmore

ZK-DKL Cessna 177B Cardinal  (c/n: 177-01944) - Leased.
Photo taken at Queenstown on 19 March 1989 

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