25 December 2011

The new Waiheke Air

Waiheke Air (2002) Ltd was established by Michael Maguire and Cees van Heemert to operate the air service previously operated by Waiheke Airservices, which was later rebranded as Waiheke Air. This company had been grounded by the Civil Aviation Authority in 2001. As part of the airline’s bid for a new licence the company was required to restructure. Part of that process was to fill more positions on the airline board. Cees van Heemert was appointed as chief executive and positions were established to oversee quality control and maintenance.

The “new” Waiheke Air operated more as a charter and scenic flight operator, though it did offer a twice daily scheduled service to Great Barrier Island. Fares to Great Barrier Island were advertised on a per seat while flights to Auckland and destinations on the Coromandel Peninsula were flown on request, with differing fares being listed which were dependent on if just one person was flying or when two or more were flying.

In particular the company's website in 2002 described the Auckland International Airport flights as, A 12 minute flight. $110 for one person or $80 per person for two or more. This flight takes the hassle out of getting to the airport by boat, taxi or bus, not to mention the time saved. We fly on request, fitting in with your arrival or departure on other flights. It doesn't get much easier than this!!! and the Great Barrier Island flights as, A 25 minute flight. Scheduled twice daily. $100 per person one-way or $185 per person return (Okiwi), and $90 per person one-way or $170 per person return (Claris). Enroute the passengers are given a birds-eye view of the scenic upper Coromandel Peninsula. Flights are scheduled twice daily allowing people to do business on either island and return at the end of the day. 

In January 2005 Waiheke Air was grounded, this time after the chief pilot left the company. Without a replacement for the position, compulsory under Civil Aviation Authority rulings, Waiheke Air had no choice but to inform the Authority, and the CAA had no alternative but to ground the airline. For a time Mountain Air filled in the gap but the short runway at Waiheke was considered “difficult” for their Aztecs and Islanders. At the time of the grounding Cees Van Heermert told the Gulf News that “while operational requirements had technically grounded the company, the business was only just viable.” Attempts to find a replacement chief pilot were unsuccessful and by May 2005 the company had disbanded and surrendered its licence to the Civil Aviation Authority.

Aircraft used:

ZK-EJG          Cessna U206G Stationair (c/n U20603549)
ZK-PRF         Cessna 172M Skyhawk II (c/n 17262667)

Cessna 172 ZK-PRF, taken at  Ardmore on 13 October 2007.

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