28 February 2011

Airbuses and an Az-Truck

Au Revoir - Off to Noumea, Aircalin's Airbus 320 F-OJSB at Auckland on 27 February 2011. Photo : S Lowe
My first look at Air New Zealand's All Blacks Airbus 320, ZK-OAB, at Auckland on 27 February 2011. It really does look quite sharp. Photo : S Lowe
Meanwhile Air New Zealand's newest Airbus 320, ZK-OJQ, was also flying. Taken at Auckland on 27 February 2011. Photo : S Lowe
Caught at Auckland on the 26th of February 2011 was Jetstar's VH-VGV which has been in New Zealand skies recently. Photo : W Grant
Flying the Whitianga service on the 26th of February 2011 was Sunair's Aztec, ZK-ERM. The following day, on the Sunday Cessna 172 ZK-DHN operated the flight with a full load inbound. It is good to see Sunair picking up some traffic on this run. Photo : W Grant

Special operations to Christchurch yesterday

Flying in and out of Christchurch yesterday (27 Feb 2011) was Toll's Boeing 737-300 ZK-TLD getting mail moving back into Christchurch. Photo : S Lowe
Also doing a couple of return flights to Christchurch yesterday (27 Feb 2011) was Air New Zealand's Boeing 747-400, ZK-NBU. Photo : S Lowe

27 February 2011

Don't you just hate it...

Murphy's law!

Alec Miller RIP

...and speaking of South Westland skiplanes, on the 4th of February the sad news came through of the death of Alec Miller, long time Franz Josef based national park ranger and skiplane pilot and CEO of Mount Cook Ski Planes. A profile of Alec can be found at the Mount Cook Ski Planes site (http://www.skiplanes.co.nz/About-Us/default.asp) and a tribute page can be found at (http://alexbrucemiller.tumblr.com/).

Mount Cook Ski Planes Cessna 185 ZK-CBS taken at Masterton on 22 January 2011. Photo : S Lowe

26 February 2011

Wairoa - Index of Posts

I have found the air services through Wairoa an interesting topic to research. Unlike any other centre in New Zealand its flights have been largely been governed by courier freight, including newspapers, mail, bank data and courier items. Because of this it has not been easy to research and so please do not treat this as gospel. If you have any information, additions, corrections, photos or thoughts so I can update these posts and the historical database I would be happy to hear from at westland831@gmail.com  - Cheers, Steve

The links to the individual Wairoa posts can be found at...




Company Profile:
Air Service to Wairoa:

Hawkes Bay and East Coast Aero Club


Company Profile
East Coast Service:


2002-2008, 2023

Company Profile:
A photographic essay on Air Napier's East Coast service can be found at

25 February 2011

and now Qantas ZQF

Further to the previous post, Wayne Grant captured the third new Boeing 737-800 on appraoch to Auckland on the 25th of February 2011

Qantas Trans Tasman Fleet and Schedule Updates

Qantas has made a number of timing changes to the schedule between New Zealand and Australia gateway ports for the Northern Summer period effective from 27 March. Adjustments have been made to facilitate an improved schedule between Auckland and Melbourne, and improved connectivity via Melbourne and Sydney to onward points in Europe and Asia.

The morning service has been scheduled for a later departure at 0650, ideally suited to delivering corporate customers in Melbourne at 0900 ready for a full business day. The evening flight to Melbourne has been brought forward to now depart Auckland at 1845 and arriving Melbourne at 2055. This service will connect with the Qantas flight to London (QF29) departing at 2250 six days per week. The two evening flights from Melbourne to Auckland departing 1610 and 1805, now leave at 1150 and 1730 providing an improved spread of services through the day. The morning departure remains at 0600, timed for a one-hour connection for inbound passengers from London on QF10.

There is an earlier departure at 0800 for the second flight of the day from Auckland, so customers will arrive at 0940 to make the most of their day in Sydney. The A330 service QF114, will depart Auckland at 1245 to provide an improved connection time with Qantas services to London, Frankfurt, Bangkok and Singapore using widebody aircraft all the way. The retiming of flight QF113 from Sydney to Auckland to depart at 1600, improves the spread of flights available on this city pair and is an option for an early business day finish in Sydney.

Qantas now operates B737-800 aircraft (73H) on all routes with the exception of Auckland-Brisbane where a B737-400 aircraft is used; and Auckland-Melbourne which operates with a mix of the two types.
In addition to 73H aircraft flying between Auckand and Sydney, an A330 flight operates six days of the week departing Auckland at 1245 to meet convenient departures from Sydney to Europe and Asia.

The latest of the New Zealand-registered Jetconnect Boeing 737-838 aircraft they operate for Qantas is seen landing at Auckland on the 24th of February 2011. Photo : W Grant

23 February 2011

Christchurch Visitor to Auckland

  Wayne Grant captured Canterbury Aviation's Cessna 180 in Auckland today (23 February 2011). The aircraft was charterd by an American couple to get them out of Christchurch.

Soundsair offering a different way to travel WLG-CHC

Found on the Sounds Air website is this interesting combination of two great ways to travel - Sounds Air across the Strait and the Tranz Coastal Express down to Christchurch..

Sounds Air Throughfares

Combining the best of the TranzCoastal with the fastest and most scenic way to cross Cook Strait we are pleased to now offer a fantastic alternative to travelling between Christchurch and Wellington. With our Sounds Air Throughfare, we combine a scenic rail journey onboard the TranzCoastal service with a range of flight options to cross Cook Strait on Sounds Air. Heading north, we offer travel from Christchurch and Kaikoura to Wellington and vice versa. The flight takes just 25 minutes and you will enjoy panoramic views of the Marlborough Sounds as you cross Cook Strait. With up to 8 return flights per day, there are many different options for enjoying Picton and the surrounding wineries. Sounds Air offer Tranz Scenic customers a complimentary shuttle between Picton railway station and Picton Airport.

22 February 2011

To Christchurch Followers of this Blog

My thoughts are prayers are with you... I hope you and yours are all safe.

A heavy weight and light weight

Auckland International gets a real mixture of aircraft on scheduled services - above, Cathay Pacific's Boeing 747-400 B-HUA taxis for departure to Hong Kong while below Sunair's Cessna 172 ZK-DHN taxis for Whitianga. Both taken at Auckland on 20 February 2010. Photos : S Lowe

21 February 2011

Announcing the Arrival of Golden Bay Air ZK-ZAG

Thanks to Richard Molly from Golden Bay who has sent me an e-mail as follows
The Seneca has just arrived in Auckland, on a ship as you say. It will be sometime before we get it online. We are taking the opportunity to paint it while it is being reassembled, plus a few things for Part 135 compliance.

Hokitika Services Unaffected by Air National Grounding

Flights to Hokitika Airport have remained unaffected by the grounding if carrier Air National, according to airport chairman Bruce Smith. Air National was grounded at the start of the month due to safety concerns, but Mr Smith said the new agreement with Air Nelson to fly larger, 50-seat planes in Hokitika meant the new Q300 aircraft had been landing in Hokitika regularly for the past two weeks. “One thing it has done is that it has brought the bigger aircraft into use much quicker than anticipated,” he said. The airport had expected to undergo an upgrade period before the Q300s could begin operating, but airport manager Drew Howatt said the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had been impressed with the way it had managed the bigger aircraft during the height of the Pike River Mine disaster, and after the grounding of Air National had been happy to extend the exemption granted for the Pike River memorial day. “We still need to put extra runway lights in, as well as change the markings and extend the effective operating length of the runway. All that is on target to happen before April 18. “The CAA are happy for us to take the bigger planes on a one-by-one basis, happy in the knowledge that this work is being done.” Currently, four 50-seater Q300s were landing in Hokitika each week, and once the new runway upgrade was completed that number should increase further. “It has been clear so far that if you put a bigger plane on, there will be more people to fill the seats, which has been good to see.”

Source : Hokitika Guardian, 15 February 2011

20 February 2011

Air Napier - the East Coast Airline


Gary Peacock started flying in 1968 at Motueka, gaining his commercial pilot's licence in 1980. By the early 1990's he was flying part time for N B MacDonalds Services Ltd who had a databank and NZ Post contract delivering mail and bank data begtween Napier, Wairoa, Gisborne and Tauranga.

In April 1993 United Aviation took over N B MacDonald Services’ courier run while Alan Coombe, Gary Peacock and John Finlay purchased  Piper Seneca Pa34-200T ZK-MSL. United Aviation chartered the Seneca to continue to operate the evening Databank run from Napier to Wairoa, Gisborne and Tauranga with the aircraft overnighting at Tauranga and returning early the next morning. The aircraft was then available for daytime charter work from Napier. Two months later, however, Electronic Data Services closed their branch in Tauranga ending the courier service.

Air Napier Ltd was formed in 1994 with Gary Peacock eventually becoming the sole shareholder.

Above, Piper Seneca ZK-MSL in its original Air Napier colour scheme at Napier on 19 December 1993 and below, at Gisborne on 14 November 2007 in its present scheme. 

In 1997 the company expanded into flight training with the purchase of two Piper Pa38-112 Tomahawks, ZK-TAW and ZK-WAJ. The training was further expanded in 1999 when the Napier Aero Club was looking for an organisation to provide flight training. Air Napier registered an interest and upon acceptance of their proposal moved into the Aero Club rooms from where they provided pilot training and the operation of their air charter business. During these years Air Napier gained CAA 135 certification for air transport operations and CAA 141 certification for flight training. Eventually Cessna 152’s became the mainstay of the training operation while a Piper PA-28-181 Archer, ZK-FIX, and at various times, Cessna 172 aircraft were and continue to be used for general charter work.

With the grounding of United Aviation in 1997 Air Napier began operating a courier run from Palmerston North through Napier and Wairoa to Gisborne in the morning with a return evening service flying the reverse route as far as Napier, the continuing to Paraparaumu before returning to Palmerston North. In 1998 Air Napier purchased Piper Pa32-260 Cherokee 6 ZK-ELK. Piper Pa23-250 Aztec ZK-JEI was also used from late 1998 till September 1999. These flights were mainly for NZ Post.

Air Napier timetable, November 1999

Above, Piper Pa32 Cherokee 6 ZK-ELK in its original scheme, at Gisborne on 9 February 2001 and, below, in the new scheme again at Gisborne on 25 November 2011. 

Pionair Direct's Piper Aztec ZK-JEI which was used by Air Napier in 1998 and 1999. Taken at Napier on 8 January 1999.

To meet the demands of this service Piper Pa31-310 Navajo ZK-DOM was added to the fleet in February 2000 and Piper Pa34-200T Seneca II ZK-WUG in October 2002.

Above, Piper Navajo ZK-NPR in the scheme it operated in for Flight Corporation taken at Napier on 8 February 2001 and at Gisborne in its present scheme on 31 August 2010. 

The timetable for the "new" service which was introduced in 2001.

At the end of April 2002 the company relocated to a larger purpose built hanger and administration facility adjacent to the Napier control tower. The modem building gave each instructor an office while trainee pilots had a large lecture room with separate rooms for flight planning. A lounge area was provided for passengers or trainee pilots while waiting for an aircraft. 

In early 2001 Air Napier introduced a Monday, Wednesday and Friday twice daily commuter service between Napier and Gisborne to get an increased share of traffic on the route. The service was not successful and did not last long.

The Air Napier timetable as found on their on the 8th of November 2006. The timetable is no longer a feature of the website.

At times the freight flights between Napier and Gisborne involve two aircraft with one flying direct with the other flying via Wairoa. In September 2008 there were changes made to the East Coast courier services when NZ Post lost the last of their bank contracts to NZ Couriers. Air Napier became the sole courier freight carrier between Napier and Gisborne, with flights direct or via Wairoa, carrying both the NZ Couriers and NZ Post courier freight. Southbound, at Napier, the freight was transferred to a Sunair flight to carry it to Paraparaumu. Air Napier continued to fly passengers to and from Wairoa to both Napier and Gisborne connecting at these centres to Air New Zealand Link flights.

For a photo essay on Air Napier's service from Gisborne to Napier via Wairoa see : http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.co.nz/2012/11/air-napiers-east-coast-express.html

In addition to the East Coast passenger and scheduled freight services Air Napier continued to offer charter services, medical transfers, aerial photography and surveying, private and professional flight training and providing servicing for international private jet flights to the Hawkes Bay. In 2012 Air Napier took over the contract to convey medical staff between Napier and Wairoa. This involved a Seneca flying to Wairoa on most week days. 2012 also saw the introduction of Cessna 162 Skycatcher ZK-SKC to the training fleet.

In mid-2016 Air Napier sold its training aircraft and ceased flying training.

On the 10th of November 2016 the Wairoa NDB was decommissioned and the courier flights between Napier and Gisborne no longer landed at Wairoa.

Air Napier changed hands on the 2nd of November 2018 with Gary Peacock selling the Napier-based airline to Shah Aslam who immediately signalled growth for the airline. Regular dedicated passenger flights were reintroduced between Napier and Gisborne from the 30th of January 2019. Within days the company was "blown away with inquiries about the new service — particularly with an unexpected call from Gisborne for a possible 'school run' by air." Chief operating officer Mike Brown told the Gisborne Herald that "the aim of last Wednesday’s soft-launch was to establish what demand there was for the Napier-Gisborne route, as well as potential new link from Gisborne to other regions. The amount of email we’ve had and phone calls, we had to put extra staff on over the last few days, has been phenomenal. I mean we got asked for a ‘bus route’ because there are so many kids going to private schools in Hawke’s Bay and they are only spending one day a week with their parents, the rest of the time they are at school or sitting in a car. So, there are all these new things that have come out of it.” Brown said the airline was also open to working with community groups. “So far the response has been extremely good — phenomenal to be honest. “It’s been very refreshing — from the Mayor to the unique set up with Eastland Group and the i-Site guys. Everybody is singing off the same song sheet and that makes it easier for people like us.

During the Covid pandemic of 2020 Air Napier kept operating their courier freight service between Napier and Gisborne but the dedicated passengers flights ceased. After lockdown the dedicated passenger flights did not resume. The courier service continues to operate using the Navajo, a Seneca or the Cherokee 6 as loads depict.

In late November 2022 Air Napier started advertising that a seat was available on the southbound courier freight weekday flights from Gisborne to Napier at a premium price of $595. At this time the service was largely operated by the company's Piper PA31 Navajo ZK-NPR.

Air Napier publicity, 30 November 2022

On the 15th of March 2023 Piper PA34-220T Seneca ZK-NAP departed New Zealand on route to Australia via Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands. It was cancelled from the New Zealand register on the 6th of April 2023.

In addition to the regular courier flight to Gisborne the Wairoa medical flights continue to be an important part of Air Napier's operation. In 2019 Air Napier also operated 205 flights into Wairoa Airport, most of these flights would have delivering medical personnel to the Wairoa Hospital. These were usually operated by Piper Senecas but following Cyclone Gabrielle in early 2023 the Piper Navajo ZK-NPR was more often used. The Cyclone meant a lot of extra work for Air Napier and in 2023, the airline flew to Wairoa 1,689 times. Also during 2023 Air Napier moved 186,597kg of urgent or overnight freight.

In May 2024 Air Napier announced that after 30 years of operation, it had officially added a jet to its Air Operations Certificate. Cessna 510 Mustang ZK-LCA had been registered to Air Napier on the 2nd of February 2024 but then obtaining the AOC took some time. The aircraft is used for nationwide jet charters.

Photo : Air Napier webpage

As to the future, Air Napier has involvement in a couple of projects including sea-gliders and Maeve Aerospace 01 electric aircraft. When developed, the Maeve 01 aims to fly at 264 knots per hour with a range of 460 kilometres. The aircraft will be capable of carrying 44 passengers and recharging in 36 minutes. 

Air Napier remains a small airline but it has big ambitions. One wonders what its future will bring.

Aircraft Used

Cessna A150L
ZK-DNO (c/n A1500448)

Cessna 152
ZK-EKM (c/n 15280954)
ZK-NPD (c/n 15280188)
ZK-NPE (c/n 15284064)
ZK-NPG (c/n 15284064)

Cessna 162
ZK-SKC (c/n 16200172 )

Cessna 172
ZK-CHN (c/n 17251986)
ZK-ENU (c/n 17268288)
ZK-NPA (c/n 17280577)

Cessna 510 Mustang 
ZK-LCA (c/n 510-0011)

Piper Pa23-250 Aztec
ZK-JEI (c/n 27-2638)

Piper PA28-181 Archer
ZK-FIX (c/n 28-7990559)

Piper PA31-310 Navajo
ZK-NPR (c/n 31-777)

Piper PA32-260 Cherokee 6
ZK-ELK (c/n 32-7600009)

Piper PA34-200T Seneca II
ZK-MSL (c/n 34-7770224)
ZK-WUG (c/n 34-7970329)

Piper Seneca ZK-WUG taken at Wairoa on 23 January 2013. 

Piper PA34-220T Seneca
ZK-NAP (c/n 34-49128)

Piper Seneca ZK-NAP at Gisborne on 7 November 2016

Piper PA38-112 Tomahawk
ZK-TAW (c/n 38-78A0716)
ZK-WAJ (c/n 38-81A0058)

19 February 2011

Seneca Registered to Golden Bay Air

Registered to Golden Bay Air yesterday as ZK-ZAG was Piper Pa34-220T Seneca (c/n 34-8333002). The aircraft was previously C-GOKO.

18 February 2011

Wanaka Airport Looks Ahead

Any objections or support for the future expansion plans at Wanaka Airport close tomorrow (Friday). Queenstown Lakes District Council wants to ensure it can address the future expansion at the ratepayer owned asset by amending planning controls (Plan Change 26). Among the requirements being sought by the council is the provision to increase the airport’s runways, taxiways, dedicated helicopter touch down and lift-off areas and new hangar facilities. It also wants to extend the existing noise boundaries by up to 6km. To meet the expected operational capacity at the airport plans are already underway to build a new passenger terminal and control tower, along with new car parks for travellers and car hire companies

Control Tower... for what???

Second Air NZ 777-300 arrives

Wayne Grant captured Air New Zealand's new Boeing 777-300 at Auckland on the 17th of February 2011 shortly after its arrival.