21 December 2012

25 years ago - December 1987 - Mount Cook Airlines

On Sunday Air New Zealand's subsidiary Mount Cook Airline resume flights to Mount Cook... In honour of this day here is a glimpse when Mount Cook Airline really was a tourist airline... While in Christchurch after Christmas in December 1987 I made a concerted effort to photograph as many of Mount Cook Airline's Hawker Siddeley 748 fleet... Sadly the shrill roar of the 784's Rolls Royce engines are but a memory...  

ZK-CWJ at Christchurch on 28 December 1987. Photo : S Lowe
ZK-DES at Christchurch on 24 December 1987. Photo : S Lowe
ZK-MCA at Christchurch on 27 December 1987. Photo : S Lowe
ZK-MCJ at Christchurch on 28 December 1987 : Photo : S Lowe
ZK-MCP at Christchurch on 28 December 1987. Photo : S Lowe
Providing extra capacity was Fokker F27-200 Friendship ZK-DCB at Christchurch on 27 December 1987. Photo : S Lowe 
Returning to the resumtion of services to Mount Cook, here is the original Air New Zealand media report from November last year...

Mt Cook is set to become the 28th domestic destination on Air New Zealand’s network with the airline announcing today the trial of a new Christchurch/Mt Cook/Queenstown route in the summer of 2012-2013. “The decision to launch this seasonal service comes after a lot of combined effort from Christchurch Airport CEO Jim Boult, Hermitage Chairman John Davies and Air New Zealand to make the route feasible,” says Air New Zealand Group General Manager Australasia Bruce Parton. “This new route is a credit to the drive and perseverance of both Jim and John. They have had the vision and belief in this regional development and we have been proud to listen and support them with this.” Mr Parton says the service will operate for six weeks between 23 December 2012 and 27 January 2013 to meet high-season demand from offshore markets, particularly tourists coming in from Japan. “It will make it easier for groups to stay overnight at Mt Cook and also make day trips possible to the region, something we expect will be a particularly popular option for visitors on cruise ships arriving into the area over the summer months,” he says. “The connection through to Queenstown will also provide independent travellers who may only have a short amount of time with a quick and easy way of visiting several of the South Island’s key tourism regions.” The 40-minute service between Christchurch and Mt Cook will operate three times a week, timed to connect with the arrival into Christchurch of the direct service from Tokyo and other morning services into Christchurch from domestic airports such as Auckland, Rotorua and Wellington. It will depart Christchurch at 11.45am and arrive at Mt Cook at 12.25pm, then continue to Queenstown at 1.30pm. On the return journey, the flight will depart Queenstown at 3.10pm to arrive in Mt Cook at 3.50pm before continuing to Christchurch at 4.30pm to arrive at 5.10pm. The service will be operated by Air New Zealand subsidiary airline Mt Cook Airline utilising a 68-seat ATR aircraft. John Davies, Chairman of The Hermitage Hotel says: “We’re thrilled with the opportunity presented by the reintroduction of scheduled flights into Mount Cook. The Japanese market has certainly been supportive of this initiative and we are hoping the service will grow to include the full Japanese touring season of December through to March. Add to this, the increasing numbers of passengers from other Asian countries into Christchurch and we see this venture as a win-win for everyone involved.” Christchurch International Airport Chief Executive Jim Boult is welcoming the new service. “We are delighted to see this begin and hope it will lead to the service becoming permanent,” Mr Boult says. “Mt Cook is a highlight of many visitors’ South Island travels and we know lots of international travellers book their trips to New Zealand with the expectation of seeing our stunning scenery - mountains and lakes. Flying over the mountains and Canterbury plains between Christchurch and Mt Cook will certainly make those travellers happy.” Mr Parton says there is no other operator currently on this route. “We do see a gap there that we hope this new service will fill.” The airline last operated services between Christchurch and Mt Cook a decade ago, with the last service in February 2002.
Schedule (subject to change)
Christchurch-Mt Cook             1145/1225
Mt Cook-Queenstown             1330/1410
Queenstown-Mt Cook             1510/1550
Mt Cook-Christchurch             1630/1710
Source : http://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/press-release-2011-air-new-zealand-announces-plans-for-new-service-between-mt-cook-christchurch-queenstown

Despite the intention to run the flights right through to the end of January the schedules show they start to peter out during the last couple of weeks... It looks like a case of lack of demand.


  1. I so miss the sound of the HS748...Noisy maybee but distinctive yes.

    Mount Cook was great when it was a 'tourist route' airline, a totally different experience.

  2. I just think the negative publicity regarding the Christchurch Earthquakes are stll having an impact on numbers. This route should be made seasonal untill things get better.
    I can remember being on a CHC - ZQN flight and it included a stop-over at Mt Cook. Only on the ground for twenty minutes...Today's service shows nearly an hour.

  3. Why don't you read the article champ? It is seasonal.

    What's wrong with MC now? Who are you anyway- the airline police?