20 February 2014

Vincent Aviation to Reactivate Masterton Service?

A group of passionate Wairarapa business owners is hoping to re-establish a Masterton to Auckland air service after Air New Zealand withdrew its services earlier this month. The group, made up of key business leaders across the region, wants to reinstate a commercially viable air service between Masterton and Auckland. Spokesmen Dave Borman and Colin Oldfield said the group has commissioned an independent feasibility study on the proposed new air link which is due for completion next month. The study will take into account scheduling, flight costs and the potential economic impact for the region. In addition the group is proposing a partnership with Vincent Aviation, a New Zealand-owned airline company based out of Wellington and Darwin in Australia. They are looking into the benefits of utilising Vincent Aviation's Saab 340 aircraft, which seats 34 passengers, one cabin crew and 2 pilots. The proposed flight would take one hour and 10 mins to fly between Masterton and Auckland airports, and the aircraft would also be available for charter flights. Mr Borman says the aircraft is being sourced for its comfort, capacity and ability to work within confines of current infrastructure. "After looking at several aircraft, the Saab 340 is our preferred option because of its capacity, its ability to use the existing runway and the current infrastructure at Masterton's Hood Aerodrome," he said. "We are also excited about working with Vincent Aviation, who has a proven track record and is just as committed to making this air link as successful as we are." The group believes the re-establishment of the Auckland to Masterton air route can only benefit the region long term. "With the right pricing, the right scheduling and support from the community we believe it will improve business links between Auckland and Wairarapa and offer tourists and visitors a convenient travel option to the region," said Mr Borman. "With the option of offering the flight for charter services we feel there will be additional benefits." Mr Borman and Mr Oldfield said the group driving the new initiative had evolved from the Masterton Airport Steering Committee. The pair said after weeks of talking, this new group felt it was "time to take action". They are now calling for public feedback on the proposed air service. "We want to know, what do people want? "We are very keen to gauge public opinion and invite anyone to get in touch with their ideas or feedback," said Mr Oldfield. The pair suggests members of the public can contact them (david@venturecon.co.nz) with any ideas or feedback on how the new service may operate.

Above, caught arriving into Auckland on 16 February 2014 was Vincent Aviation's Saab 340 VH-VNY with the same aircraft enjoying the sun (below) on 17 February 2014 


  1. I'm tempted to email the group above asking just how much research they've actually done. Seeing as Masterton is non-certificated there's your first (and expensive) hurdle. At only 1200m long, even a later model Saab is going to have payload restrictions. Not 100% certain on this requirement but something is also nagging me in the back of my head about the Saab needing a 30m wide runway under the regs.

    1. Not sure about the RWY width limitation but yeah 1200m is definitely going to be a limiting factor for the Saab. That said, would MRO ever fill a 34 seat aircraft?

      I'd be more concerned with the sustainability of the service. Agree a J31/32 would be a more sensible option.

  2. It's a lot of plane for Masterton, even ignoring the issues with it operating under Pt121. I'd have thought a Vincent or Airwork J31/32 would have been just right? (ie, a like-for-like replacement of the 1900s.)

  3. It might be an unkind thing to say, but history is littered with failed Masterton air services, both home-grown and out-of-town operators. How is throwing a 34 seat aircraft at the issue ever going to succeed? While there are undoubted economic benefits for the region, airlines have limited interest in that aspect of the equation. It's a question of whether they can make a profit out of it sustainably, or is the aircraft better utilised elsewhere?

    No-one would argue that the region is attractive to tourists, but as a business commute proposition it's not really a goer. Masterton and the Wairarapa region are in that awkward population range that is too small for an existing national carrier service to run long-term - especially when there are more lucrative markets and a limited fleet at your disposal - and the costs/risks are too great for a local business-person to go leasing aircraft and setting up a business on the strength of promises by the local community to get behind it.

    Honestly if Sounds Air aren't going to get involved with an MRO-WLG service, I can't see who would.

  4. Absolutely agree. Unfortunately they are dreaming

  5. Perhaps we armchair aviators leave the professionals to it as someone who already operates a fleet of Saabs will obviously be very familiar with the operating costs. The runway width is no issue as exemptions are available from the CAA. The runway length only starts to become a factor as the load heads up past 30 people, yet a Saab 340 (with similar operating costs to a B1900D) can operate profitably with a much lighter load than that. Very interested to see how this turns out - a company like Vincent would never be stupid enough to start a scheduled run in NZ without conducting proper research first.

  6. I agree... Vincents are a good operator. And despite the skeptics I think there is perhaps enough traffic out of Masterton... as long as they can keep the fares reasonable and if necessary find enough work for the Saab during the day. In the Stuff post Vincents also talked about using a J32.