02 January 2015

Turbulent times ahead for Taupo flyers...

Anonymous published this comment yesterday... 

Speaking to the mayor of Taupo who often walks the beat... He said that they have all but secured a operator (local) to operate the Wellington to Taupo flight.. he also said that they (the operator and TDC) are looking at skipping the Wellington flights all together and start operations to Christchurch as they believe its more in tune with tourism links to the south island and Queenstown etc.
They will be using a 29 seater aircraft..??? Any idea what aircraft type that would be...? What 29-30 seater aircraft are currently available in NZ/Australia???

His/her comment encouraged me to do some research... This was in the NZ Herald

Now here's a conundrum: from February 2016, Air New Zealand can't - or won't - put on flights from Taupo to Auckland to suit travellers who want to do a full day's work there. But if any other operator tries to, they'll be seen as a competitor, and treated accordingly.

That apparent contradiction was just one of the many dissatisfactions brought up at a question-and-answer session with Air New Zealand executives in Taupo. Attended by about 80 people, many of whom travel regularly for business, or have businesses that benefit from easy air access to Taupo, there was plenty of criticism of Air New Zealand's decision to axe its Taupo-Wellington flights from April next year, and curtail its Auckland-Taupo services, despite putting on larger 50-seat aircraft.

Air New Zealand chief sales and commercial officer Cam Wallace told the meeting the 19-seater Beech aircraft operating out of Taupo and other regional airports were coming to the end of their useful life. Where possible, they would be replaced with 50-seater aircraft but on some routes the demand was not large enough. "But the positive news for Taupo is that on the Taupo-Auckland service we think we can make that work with a 50-seat aircraft and we'll have more seats," he said. But he acknowledged that while the timing of the larger planes coming into Taupo from 2016 would be convenient for people travelling from Auckland, it would be more difficult for locals, at least in the short term. "For people based in Taupo doing business in Auckland for the day, it will be more difficult. It's possible to do a return trip to Auckland in a day, but you'll get to Auckland mid to late morning and have to leave at 4pm." Asked whether Air New Zealand would allow another operator to offer an Auckland-Taupo service with more convenient timing, general manager networks Richard Thomson said no.

However a quick look at Air NZ reservations shows a lack of consistency in Air NZ's thinking...

  • The last Wellington-Taupo service operates of 28 April 2015 - At present there are 3 Beech 1900 flights each weekday 
  • At present there are three Beech 1900 flights each weekday between Auckland and Taupo.
  • From 28 April the weekday flights are reduced from three to two on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  • My question is, how will this build demand for the Q300 flights when they are eventually introduced???
As to the operator who is looking to operate the Wellington to Taupo flight but is looking at skipping the Wellington flights all together and start operations to Christchurch...
  • If the Wellington flights are often quite full why drop them?
  • Mount Cook tried to incorporate Taupo as a stop over on their Rotorua-Christchurch services but it wasn't really a winner... has the tourist industry changed that much that it would be a goer now???
  • I wonder about the new start up operators... flying one or two routes means huge overheads while someone like Sounds Air already has the infrastructure needed
Whatever the outcome 2015 will be an exciting time for those who follow the regional air services in NZ


  1. I wonder who the local operator. One would guess that it is Funnell or Izard? Perhaps the new C208B that arrived there last month. The rego would imply that it would be used on para-ops though. Izard has a Seneca and 182s... What are the other options?

  2. When they say a 29 seater only the Saab 340 comes to mind. Peter Vincent had one recently I wonder if he will have another crack at running a airline. Will be interesting to see the outcome.

    1. When they say 29 seats it's not the Saab that comes to mind, rather a J41. But really, who knows whats going on?? TUO-CHC will not be a winner.

  3. The feedback Ive heard and seen is TUO-WLG is often hopeless, flies empty or less than 10.

    Its a fine line, do you source a smaller, more economic single pilot aircraft to satisfy the current demand at that price point, or do you take on a larger aircraft with a lower per seat cost and hope this move will stop people driving or using ROT?

    29 seat would correspond 

  4. 29 seat would correspond to Ewan Wilsons J41 photoshop pictures

  5. On the local market, there are Brindabella's J41s and Metros after they went bust about 2 years ago. I would have thought that they all got sold/broken up by now but there maybe some still hanging around. The Vincent SAABs are the ones on everyone's mind as they are up for sale at present in Australia (as seen on all the marketing that was around with them). I understand that REX is keen to pick them up but otherwise, they are likely to be going under market value.

    Izard is the only real contender for the route if it is indeed a truly local businessman. They had a full AOC setup to run their C90 ZK-ZZA. Their AOC was 'coincidentally' very similar to Eagle Airways' AOC. The Funnell's do not have an AOC for their aircraft, unless they pulled the one from the MU-2/PA-31's that they used to maintain (but this is a long stretch).

    Izard has always wanted his own airline and has the contacts, money and suitably qualified pilots to pull it off. I do not agree however that the TUO-CHC route will be a success. Unless they can compete with the ROT-CHC prices as low as $150 each way, then it is dead in the water. I think an AKL/WLG route would be better. Or even a TOU-WLG-CHC route perhaps, as long as the stop off was only brief.

    Didn't it get posted the other day that Inflite was to use Izard's facilities in Taupo? Perhaps there may be a connection there?

    On a side topic, I wonder when Sunair will get the Caravan that they are apparently getting to setup their new routes. Quite a game changer for them.

    1. I heard that it was Izard as well thru a friend at Air New Zealand.