31 October 2010

More Air Chathams Convair pics...

Bluebus of the NZ Civil Aviation blog http://www.nzcivair.blogspot.com/ has sent through some more pics of Air Chatham's Convairs...

Convair 580 ZK-CIB on the Chathams on the 8th of June 2005 - Photo : Bluebus

Convair 580 ZK-CIE on the Chathams in May 2006 - Photo : Bluebus

Convair 580 ZK-CIF at Wellington on the 7th of February 2007 - Photo : Bluebus

Convair 580 ZK-CIE arrives at Napier on 29 February 2008 - Photo : Bluebus

 Convair 580 ZK-CIF (above and below) at Christchurch on 6 January 2009 - Photos : Bluebus

Convair 580 ZK-CIF on the Chathams on the 9th of January 2008 - Photo : Bluebus

27 October 2010

Now departing from Gate 20...

Golden Bay Air's Piper Pa32 Saratoga on the 27th of October 2010 at Wellington's Gate 20 which is now its normal arrival and departure gate. Thanks for the tip Phil! Photo : S Lowe

Air National Farewell's J32 ZK-ECN

Air National's Jetstream 32 ZK-ECN, now registered VH-OTH, departed from Auckland just prior to midday 27Oct on a direct 6hr 30min flight to Sydney as "Pelican 5000" on delivery to Aeropelican.
ZK-ECN was delivered to Air National on 19Oct98 and was delivered as N967JS. 
At Auckland on the morning of its departure, Wayne Grant photo

25 October 2010

Busy Fly My Sky

Fly My Sky Ltd was incorporated as a company on the 11th of April 2007. Owned by Keith and Robyn McKenzie it had previously operated as Mountain Air Ltd, a division of Taurumunui based Commercial Helicopters Ltd. Mountain Air started scenic flights from the Chateau to offer scenic flights over Tongariro National Park. Initially Cessna 172 (ZK-EKP) and Cessna 206 (Zk-DOV) were operated. Over time two Piper Aztecs (ZK-PIW and ZK-PIX) were added to the fleet along with two Britten Norman Islanders (ZK-PIY and ZK-PIZ).

In 1997 the company introduced a scheduled air service between Auckland and the North Island skifields with flights landing at Mt Ruapehu and Turangi. The five day a week service used the Britten-Norman Islanders during the ski season.

In 1998 Civil Aviation grounded Great Barrier Airlines and Mountain Air provided two aircraft to help maintain their service. Subsequent to this Mountain Air entered into the Great Barrier Island market in their own right. The company had various run ins with Great Barrier Airlines, in particular over the use of the names it traded under, Great Barrier Xpress and Great Barrier Air . The courts decided in favour of Great Barrier Airlines.

In addition to the Great Barrier service the company has operated two other scheduled services. Between December 2000 and October 2003 the company operated a scheduled service to Kaitaia, operating as Air Kaitia (http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/05/nzs-northern-most-airline-air-kaitaia.html). The company also operated a courier service to Whangarei for NZ Post, which like a lot of NZ Post courier services, a was a casualty of the recession.

Two more Britten-Norman Islander aircraft have been added to the fleet in 2005 (ZK-SFK) and in 2007 (ZK-DLA).

In 2007 the Chateau operation was sold and continues to trade as Mountain Air while the Great Barrier operation was rebranded as Fly My Sky. The Aztecs were both sold to Sunair while the four Islanders remain on the Great Barrier run. Yesterday all four were in use shuttling people back from the Barrier after a stunning Labour weekend.

Britten-Norman BN2B-26 Islander ZK-DLA (c/n 2131) was previously operated in New Zealand by Sounds Air. At Auckland on 25 October 2010. Photo S Lowe

Britten-Norman BN2A-20 Islander ZK-PIY (c/n 344) was imported from Japan in 1996. At Auckland on 25 October 2010. Photo S Lowe

Mountain Air's first Britten-Norman BN2A-26 Islander ZK-PIZ (c/n 2012) was imported from the US of A in 1995. It still retains its Mountain Air look. At Auckland on 25 October 2010. Photo S Lowe

Britten-Norman BN2A-6 Islander ZK-SFK (c/n 236) was used in New Zealand by Southflight Aviation and Wings over Whales before joing the fleet in 2005. Photo S Lowe

22 October 2010

Just a general comment...

I hope you enjoy my blog. Thanks to those who have sent me comments, corrections, snippets of news and photos (which I like to credit). I am happy to post whatever people send me or, if you prefer, I am happy to set up anyone to post directly to this site. Also happy to take any suggestions. In anything corrections are really important. If you see anything wrong or missing please let me know.

Have just had a trip to Masterton so I did some more research on Wairarapa Airlines (which filled in a lot of gaps) and Air Wairarapa. Look for posts on those later. Also I hope to start a series on operators through Wairoa. A lot of these are courier firms and so it is very hard to find sure dates for these operations. If you flew into Wairoa or know anything about operators through Wairoa I'd really appreciate an email at westland831@gmail.com

21 October 2010

Precautionary Landing...

Yesterday Air Nelson flight NZ8401 travelling from Auckland to Napier with 40 people on board made a precautionary landing back in Auckland after a sensor light indicated a possible battery problem.

Full story : http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10681872

19 October 2010

Demo flying to Air 2 There?

Pacific Aerospace's 750XL ZK-KBD was photographed at Hamilton 18Oct before departing south to Paraparaumu, home of Air 2 There.  The following day it was observed to fly from Paraparaumu to Ohakea, Woodbourne, Wellington, Nelson and back to Paraparaumu, all regular 'haunts' for the airline.
Could it possibly be on demostration duties to replace/supplement the Air 2 There fleet?
Wayne Grant photo

18 October 2010

Pacific Blue exits NZ Domestic Market

Budget carrier Pacific Blue exited the New Zealand domestic market 18Oct following their press release in mid August.

Boeing 737-800 ZK-PBA flew the final domestic flight for the airline as DJ3055 from Wellington to Auckland Sunday evening (or was there a later Wellington-Christchurch service?).
ZK-PBA arriving at Auckland 16Oct10, Mike Condon photo

Follow on from previous posting

Saab 340B VH-UYN is seen here on short finals for Wellington's runway 34 18Oct in gusty northwesterly conditions as it completes its Tasman Sea crossing direct from Brisbane on delivery to Vincent Aviation. 

Photo via Mike Condon

Saab 340 NZ Bound

Crossing the Tasman Sea to Wellington at present is Vincent Aviation's Saab 340 VH-UYN

17 October 2010

Mainland Air - The Last Airline to Operate to Alexandra and Oamaru

UPDATED November 2020

Mainland Air Services was established in 1991 by Queenstown businessman Christopher Kelliher. From the beginning, the company was involved in charter work including air ambulance transfers. The company, in addition to its single-engined aircraft, has operated a number of Piper Pa34 Senecas and Piper Pa31-350 Navajo Chieftains which have been used on airline services. 

A couple of examples of Mainland Air's single fleet. Above, Cessna 182P Skylane, ZK-FIW (c/n 182-64206) and below, Cessna 172N Skyhawk, ZK-JAF. Both photos were taken at Dunedin on 13 July 1994.

ZK-TBF, the first Piper Pa34 Seneca at Dunedin on 17 September 1992.
From 1995 to 2006 these twins were regularly used on courier work between Dunedin and Christchurch for New Zealand Post. The frequency of these courier flights varied over the years. In 2003 Mainland Air also had a six month contract with the Bank of New Zealand to carry bank tapes from Invercargill to Dunedin. 

Piper Pa34 Seneca, ZK-DCP, at Dunedin on 13 July 1994.

The first Piper Pa31-350 Chieftain and still part of the Mainland Air fleet, ZK-KVW at Dunedin on 6 August 2001.

The interior of the Chieftain : Photo : Mainland Air

For some years Mainland Air had been flying medical staff to Alexandra and Invercargill on charter flights. Building on this work the company announced in 2007 their intention to establish a thrice weekly service from Dunedin to Alexandra and Queenstown enabling public usage of these charter services. Alexandra had been without an air service since Mount Cook Airlines had ceased their Queenstown-Alexandra-Dunedin service in 1991. To prepare for the new air service the Central Otago District Council spent $54,000 on upgrading the Alexandra passenger terminal. The terminal was originally built in 1962 to cater for the SPANZ flights.

Piper Pa31-350 Navajo Chieftain was used on courier runs to Christchurch, general charter and air ambulance work. It is seen at Greymouth on an air ambulance flight on the 14th of December 1999. 

Mainland Air’s Central Otago service began on the 5th of November 2007 on a four month trial. Return flights were offered on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays with the Chieftain departing Dunedin at 8.00am, to arrive in Alexandra at 8:30am and Queenstown at 8:55am. The return flight departed from Queenstown at 9:20am to arrive in Dunedin at 10:15am. The afternoon flight to Alexandra and Queenstown departed Dunedin at 3:15pm.

The first flight carried only two passengers, both bound for Alexandra and initially bookings were slow, with only "twos and threes." By mid January the company owner, Chris Kelliher, told the Southland Times that there were three to four people on each flight, who were mainly business people and professionals. A third of these passengers were bound for Alexandra.

After the air service to Alexandra ended, Piper Seneca ZK-LSP was at Alexandra on 16 January 2009. 

In March 2008 Mainland Air announced a new three day a week service between Dunedin and Invercargill. Initially the company proposed flights on Mondays, Wednesdays (two return services) and Fridays using with the 10-seat Piper Chieftains or 6-seat Seneca aircraft as need dictated. Mainland was again building on their existing at least six times a month charter flights that operated between the two cities. An interesting feature of Mainland Air’s services was that they offered a free shuttle into the city from the Dunedin airport to alleviate taxi fares. All seemed positive with company director Chris Kelliher, who was living at Chicago at the time, saying how pleased he was with the success of the Central Otago run and that he was looking at the possibility of a faster aircraft to take over the Dunedin-Alexandra-Queenstown route.

The Dunedin-Invercargill service started on the 16th of April 2008 with six passengers on board the first flight. The first service was flown by Phil Kean in Piper Chieftain ZK-KVW. In response to customer feedback the return services were operated twice a day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and again in the early evenings.

The first flight to Invercargill on the 16 April 2008

At this time the company was also considering adding flights to Wanaka and Te Anau interests were pushing for a service to their new airport at Manapouri.

Piper Seneca ZK-JAS on a very wet day at Invercargill on 26 July 2006.

It was soon retrenchment, however, rather than expansion that happened. At the end of May 2008, six weeks after launching the service, the company ended their Dunedin-Invercargill flights citing a lack of demand and high fuel costs. While the company intended maintaining the Central Otago route to Alexandra and Queenstown, it was announced on the 22nd of August 2008 that this service too had ceased due to low patronage. As with the Invercargill service passengers who had already booked had their flights honoured.

In late 2009 Chris Kelliher sold the company to the Paterson family who owned Mainland’s major maintenance provider, Southair Ltd, at nearby Taieri airfield. The company continues to provide charter flights, air ambulance and pilot training. At the time of the sale Mainland Air owned a fleet of ten Cessna 152’s, a Tobago TB10, two Senecas and a Chieftain. It still continues operate regular charters to Alexandra and Invercargill for medical personnel.

Some of the single engine fleet today. Above Cessna 152, ZK-NSD (c/n 15283209) on 7 February 2010 and, below, Socata TB 10, ZK-JIG (c/n 1603) on 9 February 2010. Both photos were taken at Dunedin.

In October 2012 Mainland Air announced its intention to reintroduce, on a trial basis, flights from Dunedin to Queenstown and also flights between Dunedin and Christchurch. These plans were abandoned as was another plan to operate an Oamaru-Christchurch service.

In late 2013 Mainland Air was sold to veteran Southland pilot Phil Kean and his wife Shirley. Phil had been Mainland Air's operating manager since 2007. At the time of the take-over he was reported as saying, "I was always keen to own an airline business and this opportunity came along at the right time. The business would continue to operate under the same structure but he planned to look at using faster aircraft in the near future. The new aircraft would mean flights to Auckland and Christchurch would be about 20 minutes faster." 

Shirley and Phil Kean

Expansion of the company occurred in 2014 when the company purchased a second Piper Chieftain, ZK-VIP, and introduced a scheduled service between Oamaru and Christchurch. The first flight was flown by Sven Thelning on Wednesday the 4th of June 2014 in Piper Pa31-350 Navajo Chieftain ZK-KVW. Seven flights are offered each week, with twice daily flights on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as well as a return service on Sunday afternoons using the company's Chieftain or Seneca aircraft.

Oamaru Mail, 23 May 2014

Arriving into Christchurch this morning, Mainland Air's inaugural air service between Oamaru and Christchurch.

The Oamaru timetable effective 4 June 2014

Passenger numbers failed to build. At the end of July Shirley Kean was reported as saying "numbers had been too spread out. The service required five passengers on each round trip to be viable. The majority of flights averaged three passengers travelling to Christchurch, but none coming back. From the outset, the company had made it clear if the service did not work for it, it would be scrapped. We don't want to pull out," she said, "but if rescheduling doesn't work then we're out of there." The following month the company decided to end the Oamaru service. The final flight was operated by Piper Seneca ZK-LSP on 24 August 2014 under the command of Jordan Kean and Dan Veale.

Jordan Kean (left) and Dan Veale (right) with Seneca ZK-LSP on the last day of Mainland Air's Oamaru service

Mainland Air continue to operate regular charter flights from Dunedin to both Alexandra and Invercargill for medical staff from Dunedin hospital working in the hospitals at Alexandra and Dunedin. In 2015 their Piper Chieftain ZK-VIP was used for some months by Great Barrier Airlines and its successor Barrier Air.

Mainland Air's Piper Chieftain ZK-VIP being used by Barrier Air at Auckland on 26 October 2015

However, the mainstay of Mainland Air's operations is training which the company continues to operate from its Dunedin base in addition to its charter and air ambulance work. 

Cessna 152 ZK-NSC at Dunedin on 28 September 2019.

A long way from home... Mainland Air's Cessna 172 ZK-ETT at Matamata on 14 December 2019 

For a while Mainland Air trialed Tecnam P2006T ZK-MTW for multi engine training. It is seen here at Dunedin on 11 February 2019

Piper Seneca ZK-JAS at Hamilton on a charter freight flight

Twin Engine Fleet 

Piper PA34 Seneca 

ZK-DCP (c/n 34-8070355) 
ZK-JAS (c/n 34-48010) 
ZK-ROC (c/n 34-7350084) 
ZK-TBF (c/n 34-8070087) 
ZK-WIW (c/n 34-48017) 
ZK-LSP (c/n 34-48022)

Piper PA31-350 Navajo Chieftain

ZK-KVW (c/n 31-7752004) 
ZK-MCM (c/n 31-7652032)
ZK-NCA (c/n 31-7405203)
ZK-VIP (c/n 31-7405482)

Tecnam P2006T 

ZK-MTW (c/n 65)

15 October 2010

Jetstar Looks to Expand Queenstown Operations

Low-fare airline Jetstar plans to add two new aircraft to its Queenstown fleet. "We will be 20% of the market. We are here for the long term," Jetstar Australia and New Zealand chief executive officer David Hall told the Queenstown Times yesterday. Mr Hall made the comment before delivering his keynote speech at the New Zealand Airports Conference 2010 in Queenstown, adding he was "absolutely" in favour of operating Jetstar flights at night from Queenstown Airport. The airport has permission to fly until 10pm under current zoning rules.

For the full article see : http://www.odt.co.nz/news/queenstown-lakes/131750/jetstar-keen-run-night-flights

Tauranga Traffic

Mike Condon recorded some "airline" traffic at Tauranga on the 3rd of October 2010...

Air Discovery's Piper Seneca which used to fly the NZ Herald from Rotorua to Gisborne. I think I am correct in saying it is only used for charter work now. Photo : M Condon

Showing the nice lines of Air Nelson's Q300s, ZK-NEQ above and ZK-NES below get airborne off Tauranga's runway 07. Photos : M Condon