26 October 2014

A morning with Sounds Air

The road trip to Christchurch continues and as part of it I wanted to check out a couple of third level operations... One was Sounds Air's Wanganui-Wellington service which began on 21 January 2014 and which was doubled to two flights each weekday from 1 September 2014. In addition there a Sunday return service is offered. So on Friday 24 October I was out to Wanganui airport to check out Sounds Air's new service.

Wanganui to Wellington - Sounds Air Flight 14

It's 6.15 am (YAWN) at Wanganui Airport... Check in for Sounds Air's flight is complete while preparations are underway for Eagle Air's early service to Auckland.  My aircraft was the one on the left, Cessna Grand Caravan ZK-SAY
A better photo of ZK-SAY taken on 22 October 2014
Air Wanganui's Beech King Air ZK-MKG arrived back from a med-evac flight

Our pilot for this morning's flight to Wellington is Mark...

...and this is his office
Eagle Air is still getting ready as we start on time for our 6.30 am departure
line up on 29...
and depart from Wanganui Airport
as the city awakes to a new day

Not much to see today
and not too many passengers but its growing. Wanganui folk are taking a while to get used to the new operator but more and more are realising they can fly Sounds Air from Wanganui right through to Picton, Blenheim or Nelson. or connect to Air New Zealand or Jetstar to Christchurch or other South Island centres. Connections with other flights is one of the reasons for the early departure out of Wanganui or late return. 
"It's a great office" quips Mark as the sun comes up on the new day as we cruise at 10,000 feet
"Cleared direct to Whitby" - the other reason for the early departure to Wellington is to get ahead of the early morning jet traffic into the capital... the Sounds Air flight out of Blenheim ended up being number 7 in the queue. The instrumentation and interior of the Caravans are top class and the three pilots I spoke to all said the same thing... a great company to work for and no expenses spared on safety and comfort!
Wellington is down there... somewhere
Mana Island appears through a gap in the cloud
and the coastline south of Titahi Bay

breaking visual and passing abeam the city

Finals Runway 16

Parked at the terminal was Air NZ's latest ATR-72-600 ZK-MVE
Mark was flying ZK-SAY to Picton but he managed to get me a seat to Blenheim and back with Garrett

Wellington to Blenheim - Sounds Air Flight 25

By now the weather was considerably worse... 
Waiting for QF162 to depart to Sydney...
Then lining up for Runway 16 again...
only to be bumped off the runway to await the arrival of Air New Zealand Link flight 447 
The issue for Sounds Air is that the Caravan has a slow climb rate and speed. If the Q300 above had to do a missed approach  the Caravan would be in the way. Air Traffic Control are really helpful trying to get Sounds Air away if possible but rightly safety comes first.
This time away... the western end of Lyall Bay
Not much to see over Cook Strait - Despite the warnings about the possibility of some bumps smooth air at 4000 ft
Breaking visual approaching the Marlborough coast
Flying over Blenheim
and looking up the Wairau Valley as we turn for left base...
Airport in sight!
Finals Runway 06 at Blenheim's Woodbourne Airport

On the taxi to the terminal with NZ Post's Fokker Friendship awaiting for its night time postal flights

Unloading Caravan ZK-SAN. Notice the Dominion Posts on the front left. The Dominion Post flies on the first flights to Nelson, Blenheim and Picton.  
Blenheim to Wellington - Sounds Air Flight 26

Within minutes fueling was complete and we were boarding again
On the taxi away from the terminal
and lining up 06 again
The departure was over Blenheim again

and over the Marlborough coast and over Big Lagoon, the mouth of the Wairau River

Into the murk again and then the coast of the North Island appears

and Mana Island
Not much to see!

About to commence the turn for the RNAV approach into Wellington
The start of the urban area on the approach

Crossing over Johnsonville
This will be me on Tuesday morning!
Roseneath and Mount Victoria
and a murky approach into Runway 16 again!

And Cessna 208 Caravan ZK-SAN back at the terminal.
Wellington to Wanganui - Sounds Air Flight 33

Golden Bay Air's Piper Saratoga ZK-ZIG on the taxi in as we taxied out
And a lot more cloud!
Breaking into the clear abeam the Manawatu Coast 
Whangaehu River mouth
and murky weather...
for our turn on to finals for Runway 29 at Wanganui

And just after we arrived, Air Wanganui's Piper Mojave ZK-WTH departed on a med-evac flight to Wellington
Then, as I was driving home, I noticed Ravensdown Aerowork's Bell Jetranger ZK-HTM 

Back in the terminal at Wanganui I was talking to some of the locals about the Sounds Air service... They too had noticed Sounds Air's Wanganui was growing, but more than that, they had never heard a bad word from anyone who had flown Sounds Air. Instead the passengers rave about the pilots, the plane and flight. 

It seems to me that Sounds Air really have the formula right... good planes, good service, a high level of professionalism, good customer relations, good fares and good staff and because of this they have very loyal passengers. They also have a standard of excellence in their operation and are happy for the service to build naturally. Now all they need is more Wanganui people to become aware of the service and the advantages it offers.

Thanks to Mark and Garrett and Sounds Air for a fantastic Friday morning

For more on Sounds Air see - http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.co.nz/2014/08/sounds-air-fast-scenic-way-to-cross.html


  1. Thanks Steve. That was great!! :-)

  2. great news. lets hope the wanganui community continue to grow in their usage of this excellent and reasonably priced service

  3. Thanks Steve, that was a great blog