30 June 2012

Adios Amigo - Aerolineas Argentinas bow out

Aerolineas Argentinas withdraw their thrice weekly Airbus 340 service from Buenos Aires-Auckland-Sydney service today because of mounting operational costs. In early May Aerolineas Argentinas' New Zealand sales manager, Chris Schoffer, said costs, particularly for fuel, were too high. Taking New Zealand "out of the equation" made a significant reduction in the company's costs. It's not viable to fly to New Zealand any more."
On the 7th of June 1980 an Aerolineas Argentinas Boeing 747-200 left Buenos Aires on the first trans-South Pole flight of a commercial airline. From Buenos Aires the flight made a stop in Río Gallegos before flying over the South Pole to Auckland arriving on the 8th. The aircraft continued on to Hong Kong.

In December 1980 Argentinian officials were in Wellington to negotiate a bilateral air service agreement. Initially these negotiations were not successful but between April and August 1981 five charter flights were operated. A regular service to Auckland finally began on the 5th of September 1981, the first flight being operated by Boeing 747-287B LV-OEP arriving in Auckland on the following day.

The Falkland Islands War saw New Zealand putting a pause on the air service. Flights were stopped on the 5th of April 1982. Flights resumed on a fortnightly basis on the 18th of December 1984. During the 1990s the service to Auckland was extended to Sydney and the frequency increased to two flights per week.

The flights were again suspended on the 7th of June 2001 due to losses on all routes. By this time the airline was operated Airbus A340-200s on the service. The service was reinstated on a weekly basis on the 10th of December 2001 and gradually the frequency was built up to three flights per week.

While Auckland loses its Aerolineas Argentinas service today the company will continue to fly direct to Sydney from Buenos Aires.

This post was compiled from Bruce Gavin's records
LV-ZPO on finals to Auckland's runway 23 on 18 May 2008. Photo : S Lowe

Catching up on an ex-Kiwi Friend at Tel Aviv

From a plane spotting perspective Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport was rather disappointing... there is an extra layer of glass with small dots on it so no photos :-(

However, we were bussed out to our plane and got a big surprise to see ex ZK-NBW, now HL-7620, and having had its freight conversion to become a Boeing 747-419F. From what I can glean it left Tel Aviv some time after I did.

Desperation shots of HL7620 taken at Tel Aviv on 29 June 2012. Photos : S Lowe

27 June 2012

Jetstream back on Air NZ Link services

Further to the previous post VH-OTH is destined to become ZK-VAH. The Air New Zealand website indicates that the aircraft is going to be used at least on these Wanganui services -

On Sunday the aircraft positions to Wanganui and then heads on to Auckland and back

NZ2056          WLG-WAG    1535   1610   Su      
NZ2058          WAG-AKL      1710   1810   Su

During the week the aircraft will do a morning/evening return service to Auckland as follows
NZ2050          WAG-AKL      0650   0750   Daily ex Sa Su
NZ2051          AKL-WAG      1830   1930   Daily ex Sa

On Friday night the aircraft positions back to Wellington

NZ2055          WAG-WLG    1955   2030   Fr

Also on Friday it does a late afternoon return run between Auckland and Whakatane.

NZ2056          AKL-WHK      1625   1710   Fr
NZ2054          WHK-AKL      1730   1815   Fr
I have heard there is also the possibility Vincents will pick up a third J32. 

Perhaps Eagle are getting the message about cancelling too many flights.

Meanwhile in the South Island I found a couple of other changes on the Hokitika service. The Wednesday morning CHC-HKK-CHC service has changed back to the bigger Q300 and an additional Friday midday service is now being operated by a Beech 1900 as follows

NZ2862          CHC-HKK     1100   1140   Fr
NZ2863          HKK-CHC     1155   1230   Fr

26 June 2012

One Departs, One Arrives

Making its way across the Tasman to Wellington from Sydney via Norfolk Island 23 June 2012 was Jetstream 32EP VH-OTH on delivery to Vincent Aviation.

This aircraft has had a long history with NZ, check out ZK-ECN.

Its arrival balances the NZ Jetstream population following the departure of ZK-ECR earlier this month.

24 June 2012

VIP Air Charter and Te Kahu Airlines

VIP Air Charter Limited was established at Hamilton by G. Misson, the owner of Innovative Engineering Ltd of Cambridge, in 1991. The Company flew air charter services from Hamilton with first Piper Pa23 Aztec ZK DGT (c/n 27-3437) which was joined in March 1993 by Piper Pa31-350 Navajo Chieftain ZK VIP (c/n 31-7405482).

The company also operated Piper PA-32-260B Cherokee Six ZK-DBP (c/n 32-1117) between May 1993 and March 1994 and Cessna 337 Super Skymaster ZK-DFT (c/n 33700176) between October 1996 and September 2000 but neither of these aircraft wore VIP Air Charter titles or the Innovative Engineering logo that was a feature of both the Aztec and the Chieftain.

In the early years the aircraft were sometimes used by Eagle Air to fill in on passenger services as well as to fly engineering staff on Eagle's behalf from their Hamilton base to other centres when required. In 1995 VIP AIR became involved with Kiwi International in forming Kiwi Shuttle. This was to fly linking services from Gisborne and New Plymouth to Hamilton to connect with Kiwi's services to Australia using an Embraer Bandeirante. In the event the operation lasted for only a few months at the end of 1995 and flew only to New Plymouth twice daily from Hamilton using VIP's existing aircraft.

Piper Aztec ZK-DGT at Hokitika on 8 April 1996
Piper Pa31-350 Chieftain ZK-VIP at Hamilton on 15 December 1993

From the 10th of February 1997 to the 3rd of September Aotearoa Airlines had reinstated a Hamilton-Gisborne service. In his book Rukuhia - The Growth of Hamilton's International Airport 1920-2000 Colin Zuppicich records, With the demise of Aotearoa Airlines Jonine Baker a Public Relations/Marketing Manager in conjunction with others employed the services of VIP Air to form Te Kaahu Airlines. (Te Kāhu is the Maori name for "the hawk" - The branding of the airline on the timetable spelt it as both Kahu and Kaahu - nowdays the macron above the "a" would be used). Using VIP Air's air certrificate and using their aircraft Te Kaahu Airlines commenced services within weeks of the finish of Aotearoa Airlines. 

The VIP Air Charter fleet at Hamilton on 2 October 1987

Flights were flown twice daily (morning and evening) on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. This allowed Hamilton people almost 10 hours in Gisborne and Gisborne people over 7 hours in Hamilton. Later a Friday service was added. 

An undated Te Kaahu Airlines timetable

Colin Zuppicich continues, Unfortunately they too ceased operating within weeks of their start and the route was flown by VIP until they reverted back to their core business of charter flying. 

Now without the Te Kaahu branding, the service being operated by VIP Air

The service also suffered from competition from Sunair and this also helped the demise of the Te Kahu and VIP Air service.

Details about Te Kahu Airlines are fairly sketchy... I was not able to find any newspaper references to it... If anyone has start and finish dates for the service I would be most grateful. Please email me at westland831@gmail.com  Thanks, Steve

22 June 2012

Inflite about to take flight!

Captured departing Airwork's Ardmore helicopter maintenance facility on the morning of 22 June was long time NZ resident AS355F1 Twin Squirrel ZK-HPA wearing the colours of yet to be launched Inflite Charters Ltd.  It is understood Inflite Charters will be a combination of three current air charter providers, these being Air National (no longer involved in flight operation), Skylink (Airwork NZ) and Helilink (also Airwork NZ).  

Inflite Charters will initially operate a fleet of two Jetstream 32's and a Metroliner (hopefully these fixed wings will sport the same colour scheme) along with a Bell 427, Robinson R44's and this AS355 while Helilink will continue to operate the rescue helicopters at Auckland, New Plymouth and Wellington along with the two Police Eagle AS355's at Auckland and other associated support rotor wing machines.

Official launch for the new brand is early July. 

20 June 2012

Floating Around

In the last month Liam Fullerton caught Airwork's Metroliner ZK-POB on air ambulance operations at New Plymouth. The Metro carrier Skylink titles, the name of Airwork's charter operations.

Liam also caught Volcanic Air Safaris' Cessna 206 ZK-FPO and De Havilland DHC-3 Otter ZK-VAS on Lake Rotorua. Photos : L Fullerton

19 June 2012

The Lowest Airport in the World

Bar Yehuda Airfield, sometimes known as Masada Airfield is, at 1,240 ft (378 m) below mean sea level, the lowest airport in the world. It lies between the southern reaches of the Dead Sea and the foot of Masada, the fortress that some 960 Jewish rebels, led by Israel Bar-Yehuda, held out against the Romans after the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70. After a long siege Masada fell to the Romans in 73, but according to Josephus, the Jewish Roman historian, when Roman troops entered the fortress, they discovered that its 960 inhabitants had committed a mass suicide. While I had some time at Masada the plane spotting at Bar Yehuda Airfield was confined to photos as the bus drove by. Interestingly, according to Wikipedia the operator is Sun Air Aviation. Even though there was an Aztec on the field I don’t think Dan Power’s Sunair has started services here yet!

Piper PA-32R-300 Cherokee Lance 4X-AQM at Masada on 18 June 2012. Photo : S Lowe
Covered for the heat was Cessna 172 Skyhawk. From here I went swimming in the Dead Sea... Air temperature 44 degrees!. Photo taken at Masada on 18 June 2012. Photo : S Lowe
 Piper PA-23-250 Aztec E 4X-CIO at Masada on 18 June 2012. Photo : S Lowe

Eagle Responds to Timaru's Concerns

Eagle Air is "totally committed" to its Timaru air service and has not cancelled Timaru flights to accommodate other services. That was the message yesterday to Timaru Mayor Janie Annear from Eagle Air's general manager, Carrie Hurihanganui. Mrs Annear has contacted Mrs Hurihanganui over the number of flights in and out of Timaru that have been cancelled in recent months. More than 10 per cent of scheduled flights since April 1 have been cancelled.  Mrs Hurihanganui said that several of those cancellations were weather-related, although four flights were cancelled over Queen's Birthday weekend and another two were cancelled last week due to aircraft not being available because of maintenance concerns.  Because of the frequency with which flights have been cancelled, Mrs Annear has begun flying to meetings and functions the day before to ensure that she gets to them on time. Mrs Hurihanganui assured Mrs Annear that aircraft were not assigned to specific routes. It was not a case of Timaru's flights being cancelled when an aircraft, which usually serviced another centre, required maintenance. The company flew to 22 destinations. As to when Timaru would be serviced by a larger aircraft, Mrs Hurihanganui said the company would start looking at that once existing flights were consistently full.  But Mrs Annear said that was not imminent. "We need to use the service to get a better service. That can be difficult when services are cancelled."  Mrs Hurihanganui said she was not happy with the number of services being cancelled and the company was looking at matters, including maintenance schedules. She indicated she could have some solutions to the cancelled flights, which she would discuss with Aoraki Development Business and Tourism, South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce and council representatives, when she visits Timaru this week.  She said she was happy to hear from Mrs Annear if she had any further concerns about the Timaru flights, an offer Mrs Annear said she would take up.

17 June 2012

Chatham Airlink


On the 17th of February 1996 Air Chathams was grounded by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the weeks that followed Air Chathams chartered Airwork NZ Ltd to operate an interim air service to the Chathams with their Fairchild Metroliners ZK-NSS and ZK-POA.

The following year Airwork returned to the Chathams in the form of Chatham Airlink, a joint venture between Airwork NZ Ltd and Chatham Islands Seafoods Ltd. Chatham Airlink began running scheduled services between the Chatham Islands and Wellington on the 9th of October 1997 using Airwork’s Fairchild Metroliner ZK-NSS.

Chatham Airlink’s Metroliner ZK-NSS at the Chathams' Karewa Airport on its first scheduled flight on Thursday 9 October 1997. To the left is Port Hutt Air's Beech Queenair ZK-PHA. 
Source : The Chatham Islander 2 December 1997.

Two flights were offered each week on Mondays and Thursdays. The Chatham-bound flight left Wellington at 9.15 am, the return flight left the Chathams at 12.30 pm. A departure lounge was established at the Airwork Hangar at Wellington and all flights carried passengers and cargo.

Fairchild Metroliner ZK-NSS that flew the Chatham Airlink service at Auckland on 29 November 1996.

The May 1998 issue of the Chatham Islander announced the airline had changed to a winter schedule, “operating on demand. The company’s Wellington manager Toby Clark indicated that support from Chatham Islanders was not as great as hoped for, but they are still in there to provide a freight and passenger service. If the Islanders make use of it, they will keep going. He advises that they expect to make occasional flights through the winter, and to revert to a summer schedule in about three months.”

This did not happen, however, and the service eventually petered out in 1998.

16 June 2012

More on Vincent's Jetstream air ambulance

14 June 2012
Prime Minister John Key launched Life Flight Trust’s new air ambulance in Wellington today.
Mr Key said he was delighted to unveil the new plane as Life Flight was a worthwhile service, which helped to save lives. Life Flight Chair Bill Day says, “The Trust was the first organisation to provide air ambulance services in New Zealand and has done so since 1987. We needed to upgrade to this plane because maintaining our old Metroliner had become more challenging and expensive as it aged. “We have today moved to a J32 Jetstream which enables us to continue providing the highest standards of patient care in the air at lower costs.” Life Flight flies an average of four emergency missions every day throughout New Zealand. The service operates with doctors and specialist medical teams from Wellington Hospital who provide some of the best medical services in the country. Last year Life Flight flew 1387 missions. “The Trust can only do this with the support of the community and we need to raise $2,500 for every mission flown. Our supporters are very generous,” Mr Day said. “This plane will save lives, of that there cannot be any doubt. We are very proud of our pilots, staff and medical teams who do such an outstanding job.” A quarter of the Trust’s flights are for babies and children. Whether for children or adults, the flights are often the difference between life and death.

There are excellent photos of the Jetstream air ambulance (especially good for those wanting to do a flight sim paint job) at http://www.lifeflight.org.nz/planelaunch.php 

A couple of questions I have...

"We needed to upgrade to this plane because maintaining our old Metroliner had become more challenging and expensive as it aged" - Is the J32 going to be any better???

How do they get the stretcher in the door of the J32??? A Metro or 1900 would be far easier 

Eagle Masterton Update

Direct flights between Masterton and Auckland are reverting to a more regular timetable. In May, Eagle Air, which operates the service on behalf of Air New Zealand, switched the 7am morning flight from Masterton to a 12.15pm departure. The only return flight from Auckland leaves at 10.40am, making it impossible to fly there and back on the same day. At the time, Carrie Hurihanganui, Eagle Air general manager, said the changes were due to maintenance requirements to the Eagle Air aircraft that serviced the route. That maintenance was expected to last until June 18. The airline is now nearly ready to reintroduce its earlier timetable, Ms Hurihanganui said. "For a two week period from Monday, June 18, we will be reintroducing some business-timed Masterton flights on Mondays and Fridays, with plans to return to the normal full schedule from Monday, July 2," she said. "During this two-week period, as we transition out of our maintenance work, the schedule timings will have some variability and so we are contacting all customers that currently have bookings to ensure they are informed of the timings of their flights." Eagle Air was committed to the region and getting back to its normal schedule as quickly as possible, she said. Other changes in May included the trial of flights aimed at the leisure traveller, offering the opportunity for Aucklanders to spend the weekend in Wairarapa with a new fly-in Friday, fly-out Sunday option. That trial is currently being reviewed but is not being extended from July 2, Ms Hurihanganui said.

15 June 2012

Farewell to a 3rd Level Airliner

Jetstream 32EP c/n 968 has spent over thirteen years in NZ and during that time worn three different registrations and flown on behalf of several carriers.  Today, 15 June, registered ZK-ECR, it departed Auckland on the long haul delivery flight to South Africa with initial stops at Norfolk Island and Coolangatta/Gold Coast.

The aircraft arrived at Wellingtonn from Pago Pago on 26 March 1999 as N968AE and was initally registered ZK-REW with Rex Aviation, trading as Ansett NZ,  who in turn became Tasman Pacific Airlines.  Following its collapse in April 2001 it ended up moving to Origin Pacific where it became ZK-JSQ in September 2002.  This airline in turn collapsed and the aircraft languished until its operation was taken up by Air National who re-registered it ZK-ECR in July 2006.  Air National then had its air operator's certificate revoked and operations moved to Vincent Aviation in April 2011 however the aircraft remained stored at Auckland.  Twelve months later and Airwork Flight Operations assumed the role of registered owner to whom it remained with until its delivery to South Africa.
Above and below, ZK-REW at Nelson 29 November 1999, MRC photos

ZK-REW at Wellington 29 November 2000, MRC photo

ZK-JSQ at Christchurch 24 November 2002, MRC photo
ZK-ECR at Auckland 27 July 2010, Steve L photo
And at Auckland in April 2011, supplied

Whisper Westward Bounds comes to pass....

As previously mentioned, westward bound, Vincent Aviation's BAe 146-200 ZK-ECO visited Hokitika around sunrise 15 June to uplift a group headed to the Hamilton Field Days.  It will return to Hokitika this evening before returning to its roost at Wellington.

Thanks to Peter B for these lovely shots from a frosty West Coast

Wellington patients needing flights to get life saving treatment will be all wrapped up in a new plane decorated by Weta Workshop. Life Flight Trust, which has provided fixed wing air ambulance services to the Wellington region since 1983, has replaced its ageing Metroliner with a J32 Jetstream aeroplane. Its paintwork - criss-crossed bandages all neatly tied up with a shiny safety pin - was completed by artists from nearby Weta Workshop.  Staying with the theme, Prime Minister John Key cut a bandage to officially unveil the plane at the Life Flight hangar at Wellington International Airport today.  Life Flight, which also operates the Wellington-based Westpac Rescue Helicopter, flies an average of four emergency trips per day to hospitals all over New Zealand. Last year it made 1387 patient deliveries. Life Flight chairman Bill Day said maintaining the previous Metroliner plane had become more challenging and expensive as it aged. "We have today moved to a J32 Jetstream which enables us to continue providing the highest standards of patient care in the air at lower costs," Day said.  "This plane will save lives - We are proud of our pilots, staff and medical teams who do such an outstanding job." One who owes his life to the service, Wayne Cherry, 17, was there to see the plane which will replace the one which transported him for life-saving cancer treatment in Christchurch five and six years ago. He had 72 hours to live and Life Flight made it in time - a stressful time made all the better by a friendly, calm team, he said. "They also stopped my mum from freaking out."

There is also a nice photo on the MRC Aviation or NZ Civil Aircraft Blog, see : http://nzcivair.blogspot.co.nz/2012/06/all-wrapped-up.html 

13 June 2012

Eagle's Maintenance Woes Continue

Ten per cent of flights in and out of Timaru have been cancelled in the past 10 weeks, with Air New Zealand looking at ways to overcome the problem.  Since April 1, 24 of the 203 scheduled return flights from Timaru to Wellington have been cancelled. Tomorrow night's service has also been cancelled because of maintenance problems.  The latest cancellation comes on top of two return flights being cancelled during Queen's Birthday Weekend. Air New Zealand spokeswoman Tracey Palmer said yesterday that the airline was disappointed at the continued number of cancellations and was looking at initiatives, such as additional capacity, "to ensure we can provide the on-time, reliable and safe standards that we strive for".  At 89.4 per cent, the cancellation rate was well below the airline's stated target of having 98 per cent of services fly. Ms Palmer said the aircraft that required unscheduled maintenance before Queen's Birthday Weekend was still not back in service. The maintenance was required as a fault had been discovered around a cargo door. The company had been unable to find an alternative aircraft for tomorrow night's flight.  Timaru Mayor Janie Annear plans to take up the matter of Timaru's cancelled flights with Air New Zealand operator Eagle Air.  And to ensure she gets to appointments on time, she has taken to flying the previous day.  "I am on a couple of boards that meet quarterly and [this year] I have started going up the night before. There is a feeling you cannot rely on the flights."  Mrs Annear said she had no problems with flights being cancelled because of weather conditions, but was less impressed with the number canned in recent months due to maintenance requirements. "I am certainly going to be contacting Eagle Air [general manager Carrie Hurihanganui]."  Mrs Annear said she understood the company realised this level of service "was not appropriate to this community". "I have to say it is a fantastic service, but we do need the reliability factor. We have to have that otherwise it is going to erode the confidence [of users].  "When it is a maintenance issue yet again, that whole thing of the safety of the plane starts to become prominent in people's minds." The Timaru flights had been well patronised, but she was concerned people would opt to fly from Christchurch rather than use the Timaru services if they were not reliable.  "It is just the most terrible beginning to the day, to have to bus to Christchurch [when your flight is cancelled]."

10 June 2012

James Air - The Sun City Airline

On the 1st of July 1978 James Aviation rebranded Capital Air Services, which it owned, as James Air. At the time of the rebranding Capital Air Services were using four Cessna 402 aircraft; Cessna 402A ZK-DHW (c/n 402A-0065) and Cessna 402Bs ZK-DNQ (c/n 402B-0222), ZK-DSG (c/n 402B-0559) and ZK-EHT (c/n 402B-0340). All the aircraft became part of the James Air fleet with ZK-EHT being the first aircraft to be repainted in James Air’s black and red colour scheme in late July 1978.

Showing of its new colours, Cessna 402 ZK-EHT over Nelson. Source : Nelson Evening Mail 27 July 1978

Cessna 402 ZK-DSG on a charter to Hokitika in 1978.

The change from Capital Air Services to James Air saw the end of the air service to Greymouth and Christchurch with the airline focussing on Cook Strait services from its Nelson base to Blenheim, Wellington and Palmerston North as well as flights from Blenheim to Wellington. The airline also continued to offer charter services. The Cessna 402s were, however, uneconomic, and accordingly three of them were sold; ZK-DHW to Westland Flying Services, ZK-DNQ to Air Central, and ZK-DSG to A J Plank in Palmerston North, though the latter was made available to James Air as a backup aircraft or at peak times. In late 1979 an 11-seat Cessna 404 Titan, ZK-TAT (c/n 404-0080), was added to the fleet as a replacement for the smaller Cessna 402s.  In addition to the scheduled work the Titan was also used to provide live deer transportation between James Aviation's deer recovery operation on the West Coast and a holding farm in the central North Island. Up to eighteen trussed and tranquilised deer could be accom­modated in the aircraft on these flights.

The Cessna 404 Titan ZK-TAT, again on a charter to Hokitika in support of oil exploration off Hokitika. Photo taken in
October 1981.

Timetable effective 4 June 1979


In February 1980 James Air looked to coordinate its air services with Hamilton-based Eagle Air and Napier-based Air Central. The three companies saw this as a way to pool their resources in the face of the difficulties of running a third level operation on lean routes and Air New Zealand’s unwillingness to relinquish any services to provincial centres. The combined effort operation, which was to be operated under the umbrella name Air United, was to be structured around a scheduled daily service by all three operators to Palmerston North. The talks, however, failed to produce to a tangible operation.

Cessna 402 ZK-DNQ at Greymouth on a charter on 19 August 1979

By the end of the 1980 financial year the company was operating 46 flights a week on the Nelson, Wellington, Blenheim route and was averaging 1000 plus passengers a month across Cook Strait. But, even with the reduced fleet, the company was operating at a loss. To counter these losses and to increase loadings the company tried to offer discounted fares, especially on the poorly patronised Nelson-Blenheim route.

August 1980 was a significant month for the airline. In a surprise move James Aviation Ltd, James Air’s parent company, was taken over by a newly-formed company, which was eventually named Aviation Corporation Ltd. A second event was more damaging for the airline. On the 22nd of August the Titan made a wheels-up landing at Woodbourne while on the morning Dominion newspaper flight from Wellington to Nelson, via Blenheim. In October 1980 James Air conceded that it could not compete with Air New Zealand over Cook Strait and cut back on its Wellington flights. Passengers flights to and from Blenheim were reduced with a largely-courier only service of one return flight being offered six days week, and likewise the Wellington-Nelson run was reduced to one return service five days a week.

A very sad looking Cessna 404 ZK-TAT at Blenheim's Woodbourne Airport. Source : Nelson Evening Mail, 22 August 1980

Timetable effective October 1980

Faced with higher costs, dropping patronage, and the loss of a key Databank contract, James Air slashed its Wellington flights on the 1st of April 1981 with the airline deciding to concentrate on its Nelson-Palmerston North service. Because of its continuing losses on both the Wellington-Blenheim and Wellington-Nelson sectors the Licensing Authority approved an application to operate only one scheduled service per week on a Sunday morning trip for the Sunday papers to be flown from Wellington to Nelson. The Wellington-Blenheim service was placed on a non-scheduled basis and not operated.  

The greatly reduced timetable effective April 1981

In August that year, however, with Air New Zealand cutting its early-morning flight between Blenheim and Wellington James Air applied to the Air Services Licensing Authority for permission to run at least three flights a week between Wellington and Blenheim and a minimum of the same number of flights between Blenheim and Palmerston North, through Nelson. These flights commenced soon after with a Monday to Friday service being offered.

Back with Wellington services, timetable effective November 1981

James Air’s March 1982 shows the airline was operating more flights with weekday return services between Blenheim and Wellington both in the early morning and late afternoon. In between these flights the aircraft operated a Blenheim-Nelson-Palmerston North and return service. This flight also operated on Sundays. There were  also three additional flights on a Monday, Friday and Sunday between Nelson and Palmerston North and a direct Sunday only service was offered between Nelson and Wellington and return.

More flights appeared in the March 1982 timetable

Cessna 402 ZK-EHT at Wellington

James Aviation’s founder, Ossie James, had been waiting in the wings for many years for the Government to make a decision as to the role third level airlines should have on the New Zealand aviation scene. He had been promoting this when James had owned Capital Air Services and he continued to promote it when the airline was under the James Air banner. In particular he advocated the possibility of 18-20 seat turbo-prop aircraft servicing the West Coast or other smaller provincial services and being linked to the national carrier. Ultimately this was what was to happen later with Air Nelson and Eagle Air but in the early 1980s both the Government and Air New Zealand were reluctant to move on this. The company was wisely cautious in not investing in larger, more expensive turboprop aircraft without significant work for them. Meanwhile, from November 1981, James Air had to compete not only with Air New Zealand on its Cook Strait routes, but also with a new competitor, Air Albatross. It was this company that was to revolutionise regional air services in New Zealand.

In 1982, however, James Air did add a turboprop aircraft to its fleet. Between mid-1982 and 1984 the company used Beech 99, ZK-JAF (c/n U-102), on an overnight courier service between Auckland-Wellington-Christchurch. An application was also made in 1982 to add a second Beech 99 to the fleet to cater for increasing patronage and freight on the Cook Strait service. As it happened, plans for the second Beech came to nothing, with an Aero Commander 500A, ZK-DCF (c/n 500-A-1274-97), being added as a backup aircraft for the Cessna Titan.

Beech 99 ZK-JAF was used for courier work. It is seen here at Auckland on 24 November 1982.

Aero Commander ZK-DCF at Nelson in January 1983.

The James Air name disappeared from Cook Strait on the 1st of August 1983 when the airline was renamed Avcorp Commuter reflecting its ownership by the Aviation Corporation Ltd.

The last timetable effective 1 January-31 July 1983