03 December 2013

Happy 30th Great Barrier Airlines

Today marks the 30th birthday of Great Barrier Airlines. During the summer of 1982/83 Jim and Ruth Bergman explored the possibility of operating an air service to Great Barrier Island. Jim Bergman first announced plans for the airline in the Barrier Bulletin in February 1983…

Folks on the Barrier may be interested in our future plans. Island Air Services has applied to the Air Services Licencing Authority for an Air Service Certificate to allow the following operations -
1.         Air Charter/Taxi flights from the Great Barrier Island.
2.         Scenic and joy riding flights from Great Barrier.
3          To operate a Non-Scheduled timetabled Air Service between the Great Barrier Island and Auckland.
I am a retired Air New Zealand Boeing 747 (Jumbo) pilot and Ruth is also a fully licenced multi-engine rated commercial pilot. We feel there is a need and demand for an Island Air Service operating from the Great Barrier Island.
Thank you.
Jim Bergman

At this stage the Auckland Aero Club’s commercial division, New Zealand Air Charter, were operating to the Island with a Partenavia and various single engine aircraft while Sea Bee Air was operating an amphibian service to the Barrier using with Grumman Widgeon and Grumman Goose aircraft. Meanwhile plans for a new service continued including the establishment of Great Barrier Airlines Ltd. The new company’s plans were outlined in a letter to the Great Barrier County Council in September 1983…

Our Company has been established with the specific purpose of providing a professionally run regular daily air service between the Barrier Island and Auckland and Ardmore Airfields on the Mainland. We intend to operate only to Claris Airfield and provide by a Barrier Licence holder, a road transfer to and from Tryphena. Great Barrier Airlines Limited have purchased for this service a de Havilland multi-engine; nine passenger airliner ex the Royal Australian Flying Doctor Service of N.S.W. The de Havilland "Drover" aircraft is undergoing a complete overhaul in Auckland and will be ready for service by November 1983. The Island is at present serviced by several Aero Clubs and Air Taxi Operators on an Air Taxi basis, and by the Auckland Aero Club daily, with small single engine machines. We however, are of the firm opinion that the time has arrived where the Island population deserves a Commercial multi-engine airline service that will increase safety standards and operate a daily, on time schedule. The ability to carry large freight consignments both to and from the Island and be able to load large items which may be required urgently is also now a necessary Island service. We studied the Islands requirements very thoroughly during the summer of 82/83, and have spent the last eight months preparing for this service. The major shareholding in Great Barrier Airlines Limited is held by my wife Ruth and myself. We are both Professional Pilots with multi-engine ratings and we intend in the main, to fly the service ourselves. It is our intention once the airline is established, to build on our land at Kaitoki and to orientate the airline to the Barrier with both ourselves and the aircraft spending a good         deal of time on the Island. We have a licence application before the Air Service Licencing Authority and we require the granting of this licence to be able to commence our service. Under the present regulations to obtain a licence such as we have applied for, we need to prove a need. As such we would much appreciate it if you could write a letter of support and indicate in what way you might utilise our service. Full details of the services we plan to operate, are listed below.
Yours sincerely,
J S Bergman, Managing Director

1.    Daily Air service with increased special flights at peak periods.
2.    Special Charters for freight or groups of passengers to or from the Island.
3.    The collection and delivery of freighted items on the Mainland between the Airfields and Auckland. On the Barrier, between Claris and Tryphena.
4.    To carry overseas Tourists to the Island on day trips which include transfers, a Safari and Lunch at a Lodge.
5.    To carry Domestic Tourists on a package trip which includes transfers, a night or nights on the Barrier, a Safari and other activities.
6.    To provide a service for large urgent items.
7.    To provide an emergency service as requested.
8.    To provide a Barrier Scenic Flight for visitors.
9.    To build a passenger terminal at Claris.
10. To provide an Air Service Professionally operated in all respects for the Barrier.

In November 1983 the Great Barrier County Council gave consent to Great Barrier Airlines to place a caravan and transportable building outside the Claris Airfield gates for a period to end on the 30 June 1984 with the consent to be reviewed at that time.

On the 14th of November 1983 a letter was sent to Great Barrier Island ratepayers detailing the service…

Our company is commencing in December, a regular timetable air service for the Barrier. We will be operating a De Havilland 'Drover' three engine airliner which is configured for eight to nine passengers and a single engine Cessna three passenger aircraft. Initially the service will be three times daily reducing to once or twice daily as demand dictates during the off peak periods. After an initial operating period, the timetable will be altered to overnight the service on the Barrier at set times. We only fly to and from the Barrier and intend to operate a regular on time service. Up to eleven seats are available for each timetabled flight with the Cessna being used for up to three passengers. Four to eight passengers will be carried in the Drover and from nine to eleven passengers when both aircraft will be operated. You will notice that our fares are competitive. We are making an introductory offer to all rate payers. If you produce this letter when you buy a ticket we will give you the return trip free. Also please note our permanent advance payment concession fare. Buy four single sector tickets (ie: two return) and we will give you the 5th single sector free. An effective 20% discount with no time limit on ticket use. Our freight rates are very competitive and we will arrange pick-up and delivery on the mainland as part of our service. Our master agent on the island is the Tryphena Post Office, where a direct radio link is available to our Auckland booking office.
Yours sincerely,
J. Bergman (MANAGER)

Flights began on the 3rd of December 1983 with Jim Bergman flying the first service in Cessna 172 ZK-DKH.

The rest of the company’s 30 year history may be found in the following three posts.

The aircraft that flew the first flight, Cessna 172 ZK-DKH at Auckland on 6 August 1984

Timetable Number 1, effective 3 December 1983

Happy Birthday Great Barrier Airlines!

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