19 September 2010

Qantas New Zealand took off 10 years ago

Ansett New Zealand       DEPARTED
Qantas New Zealand     DEPARTED
Qantas                             DEPARTED
Pacific Blue                     DEPARTING
Jetstar                              ON SCHEDULE

Jetstar has recently announced a fleet increase for New Zealand operations but the track record of airlines trying to take on Air New Zealand is not great. 10 years ago this month Qantas New Zealand began operations and stayed airborne only seven and a half months. This is a snapshot of their operation.

In March 2000 a consortium of businessmen bought Ansett New Zealand from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. The consortium included New Zealand businessmen David Belcher, Sir Clifford Skeggs, Alan Gibbs, Trevor Farmer, Chris Coon, Ian Hendry and Greg Lancaster, and Australians Ken Cowley (through his company RM Williams) and Kerry Stokes.  In late June 2000 the operating company, Tasman Pacific Airlines of New Zealand, announced Ansett New Zealand was to be rebranded as Qantas New Zealand, flying domestic routes as a franchise operation of the Australian carrier. The “new” Qantas New Zealand was officially launched on the 4th of September 2000 even though the franchise had been finalised in late June. While the investors were confident they had the right formula to make the airline fly the NZ Herald was not so confident, reporting that “the real marvel about Ansett New Zealand - which yesterday became Qantas New Zealand - is it's still airborne. Only three of its 13 years have been profitable, and it has lost a variety of owners more than $230 million.” This ominous reporting was quite prophetic. 

 The first timetable, effective 4 September 2000
Qantas New Zealand employed 1100 staff, including about 140 pilots and 180 cabin crew and operated its fleet of eight British Aerospace 146 aircraft, five De Havilland Canada 40-seat Dash 8-102 aircraft and two 50-seater De Havilland Canada Dash 8-311s aircraft to Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, Invercargill, Palmerston North, Queenstown, Rotorua and Wellington. 
Early in the new year Qantas New Zealand was in financial trouble due to increases in fuel prices and the decrease of the New Zealand dollar. With losses of over $100,000 a month being incurred flights ceased in the evening of the 20th of April 2001 and the company was placed in receivership the following day leaving stranded passengers around the country. Qantas Australia operated a Boeing 767 and later Boeing 737s to help move these passengers. These 737 operated Qantas services increased ultimately leading to the point where Qantas began operating in New Zealand in its own right.

Of the fleet BAe 146s ZK-NZG, NZJ, NZK, NZL, NZM, Dash 8-311s ZK-NER and NEQ, Dash 8-102s ZK-NES, NET and NEU were painted in Qantas New Zealand colours. 

De Havilland Canada Dash 8-100, ZK-NET, lines up on Runway 29 on Christchurch on 16 October 2000.
Add captionDe Havilland Canada Dash 8-300, ZK-NEQ, landing at Christchurch on 29 September 2000.
British Aerospace 146-300, ZK-NZK, taxis for take off at Wellington on 15 March 2001. 

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