30 April 2015

13 flights a week for Hokitika

Air New Zealand has confirmed fewer flights but bigger planes will operate out of Hokitika from next year.  However, it says feedback from the main users will help set the new schedules. From May 2016, return flights between Hokitika and Christchurch are expected to drop from 24 a week to 13, following the replacement of the 19-seat Beech aircraft with 50-seater Q300 aircraft.  The company yesterday signalled cheaper fares as a result of the economical change. However, Westland Mayor Mike Havill said he wanted assurance the flight scheduling would continue to suit the region, not the airline. He recently hosted a stakeholders meeting with Air New Zealand regional services manager Ian Collier, Among those in attendance were representatives from the West Coast District Health Board, Electronet, Development West Coast, Westland Milk Products and Department of Conservation. "There was a clear agreement within the business community that we send the message that when the new scheduling is set it is to suit the region, not Air New Zealand," Mr Havill said. He said it was understood the airline was proposing a minimum of two flights a day. A joint submission was being prepared to back up the consensus that the flights be scheduled around the business day. A large part of the timetable was being underpinned by the DHB, which needed the ability to fly in specialists first thing in the morning, Mr Havill said. "We need the ability for people to be able to leave the Coast early and get back later in the day. We don't want two flights wither side of lunch or just when they have a spare plane lying around."  The company said in a statement yesterday it was planning ti take feedback from the stakeholders meeting into consideration. "We are currently awaiting a formal response from the Mayor’s office as to how we best meet the community’s needs before confirming the new schedule.” Later this month, Hokitika Airport will become the only West Coast regional link with the airline when Air NZ drops out of Westport, replaced by Sounds Air with nine-seater planes. Westport was one of three towns to lose its air services when the airline announced it would be progressively retiring its regional fleet of 19-seater Beech 1900D aircraft by August 2016. The national carrier said it had been losing $ million a month over the past two years on routes served by the Beech fleet. It has forecast that airfares will drop by up to 15% on the large capacity flights. “Where we transition a route to larger 50-seat aircraft we expect to be able to reduce the average airfare by 15% because of the better economics of scale achieved from distributing fixed operating costs across 50 passengers than just 19,” Air NZ said in a statement. Mr Havill said with the “sharper” pricing it was hoped more West Coast people would choose to fly over the hill rather than travel by bus or car.

Source : Hokitika Guardian, 2 April 2015

29 April 2015

Local Coverage of Final Air NZ Service to KAT

Use it or lose it - that's the stark warning to Far North residents as Great Barrier Airlines launches its three-times daily service from Kaitaia to Auckland today. The airline replaces Air New Zealand, which took off from Kaitaia airport for the last time at 10am yesterday. The national carrier also canned its direct Whangarei-Wellington flights. Far North Holdings boss Andy Nock, whose council-owned company operates the airports at Kaitaia and Kerikeri, warned people not to take the new service for granted. "We can't expect Great Barrier Airlines to subsidise our air links with Auckland so it's up to us all to make the route a viable one." A scheduled air service between Kaitaia and New Zealand's biggest market was vital for economic development in the very Far North, he said. "We need to use it or we'll lose it." Great Barrier Airlines will use a 12-seat Cessna Grand Caravan 208B aircraft it bought especially for Kaitaia route with a nine-seater Piper Chieftain as a back-up. The new service promises to be better than Air NZ's with more frequent departures and a flight leaving at 7.30am on weekdays. One of the main gripes with the Air NZ service was that the first flight left too late for business people to get a full day in Auckland. Great Barrier Airlines general manager Murray Pope said he was "hopeful we can pick up the baton and run with it, and follow on the good work that was initially done by Air NZ". The inaugural flight will leave Kaitaia at 2pm today, return about 5.30pm, and depart again at 7pm. Air NZ will continue to fly the Kerikeri-Auckland and Whangarei-Auckland routes using the 50-seat Bombardier Dash 8 Q300. Meanwhile, Air NZ spokeswoman Emma Field said the last direct flight from Whangarei to Wellington had taken off on April 3 - with only seven customers on board. "Unfortunately, some routes such as Whangarei to Wellington were struggling to support a 19-seat service and simply not economically sustainable."

Source : 

Local Coverage of Air Chathams' New Service to WHK

An open day to launch the new Eastern Bay air service to be operated from today by Air Chathams at Whakatane Airport is being termed a huge success after thousands flocked to it to take in the fun. Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne said he had worked at the event on Sunday collecting the gold coin donation entry fee as part of his duty with the Whakatane Sunrise Rotary group and he was astounded at the number of people who turned up. “It just blew us away. Whakatane came out in force to welcome Air Chathams – there is no two ways about it.” Mr Bonne said he spent a lot of time on the entry and exit gate during the day. “I would ask people as they left what they thought and they said they thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a great weekend – the community came out in support of the 100 years since Gallipoli and then they came out to the airport to have a bit of leisure time.” He said the open day marked a good start to the relations between Whakatane and the Chatham Islands. “The Chatham’s mayor was unable to come because of Anzac Day responsibilities … his Dad was in the Maori Battalion. So he sent one of his councillors in his place and she really enjoyed it.” He said the key now was for Whakatane residents to support the service so it continued.

Sunday’s open day at the Whakatane Airport provided a fantastic welcome for Air Chathams. “It was amazing – we loved it,” Captain Duane Emeny said. “It was a great welcome and also to have that big a turnout from the local community was a massive boost for us because it means people really do care about their regional airport and really do want their service to continue. “This is obviously important for us if we are going to make it work.” Air Chathams’ beautifully restored DC-3 proved a popular attraction, with people lining up to take advantage of the scenic flights on offer. Mr Emeny said they took up eight flights with all 28 seats full each time. “Basically from our 10am start we didn’t stop till just prior to 5pm – that’s two hours after the open day officially closed. “In the end we had to turn people away because we were running out of daylight to fly the aircraft. “It was great. It just shows how much of an icon the old DC-3 was,” he said. The Convair 580 was available for inspection and impressed visitors. Mr Emeny said people were impressed with the size and the leg-room, having previously been serviced by a 19-seater aircraft. “To have something in the air of that size was quite neat. They hadn’t really seen an aircraft of that size here before other than the odd charter.” He said it was also good to have the 18-seat Metroliner at the airport on static display. “It gave us an opportunity to say vote with your feet; the more you travel with us the more we will fly the Convair.” Keen photographers Jill and Colin Harland said the air show was a great opportunity to practise taking photos. “There’s a fabulous crowd here,” Mrs Harland said. She said the only sore point was the distance she had to walk to the airport from close to the Whakatane Golf Club entrance, where they parked their car. Traffic control was a problem during the day as the single gate entry to a paddock used for parking could not cope with two-way traffic. Bunty Here-wini said the Sunday event was an “awesome day”. “There’s lots of displays and great entertainment. “Keeping flights going from Whakatane, that’s great. You don’t have to go to Rotorua or somewhere else to fly from Whakatane – it keeps us on the map.”

For most of the passengers on Air Chathams’ inaugural flight into Whakatane yesterday, it took eight times as long to reach Auckland Airport as it did to fly home. A 19-strong contingent from the Eastern Bay took an early-morning bus ride to Auckland to be aboard the Convair 580 for the first flight into Whakatane following the departure of Air New Zealand. Mayor Tony Bonne, councillors, council staff and business, tourism and media representatives joined Air Chathams staff and a small number of paying passengers for the special flight, captained by airline owner Craig Emeny. With his son Duane in the co-pilot’s seat, Mr Emeny provided his first passengers with a smooth ride, from the moment they checked in at the Air Chathams counter at Auckland Airport through to landing in Whakatane a short time later. Everyone on board was noticeably impressed with the airline’s friendly professional service and the 50-seater aircraft’s comfort, especially after spending four-and-a-half hours on a bus and experiencing the nose-to-tail crawling pace of an Auckland motorway. Air Chathams will also have an 18-seater Metroliner servicing the Auckland-Whakatane route but it is the larger Convair that Mr Emeny is hoping to use to build visitor numbers to the region. For frequent flyers used to the cramped conditions of the Air New Zealand Beechcraft, the Convair is like flying business class. It has an abundance of leg room, overhead lockers for your carry-on luggage, an easily accessible toilet and room to walk around in the aisle when the seatbelt light goes off. As Mr Bonne puts it: “We’ve had a 19-seater minibus coming in and now we’ve got a 50-seater coach”. “We’ve got a service with two pilots – the other airports [abandoned by Air New Zealand] have all gone for single-engined one-pilot services – so our service is still superior and it does give us opportunity for expansion,” he said. Being a bigger plane everyone no longer automatically gets a window seat on the Convair 580 but there’s the bonus of being seated alongside your travel companion, or, if you’re travelling alone, some other interesting person. If not, rest assured it’s a quick 35-minute flight with hardly time to open the newspaper and more time spent ascending and descending than flying above the clouds. Air Chathams is keen to provide the Eastern Bay with the best air service possible and is hoping the community will support the airline in the same numbers and with the same gusto they supported the open day on Sunday. Mr Bonne shared this hope: “We had 5000-odd people go out to the open day. We now need all those people to always look at Air Chathams as the first option when they choose their flights”. Air Chathams is now flying regular daily flights between Whakatane and Auckland with fares priced from $89 to $339. Mr Emeny said due to gate availability in Auckland, and travel connections through Auckland for Whakatane residents, the company had adjusted the times of the morning and afternoon flights out of Whakatane Airport. The morning flight now leaves 10 minutes earlier at 7.05am (Monday to Friday) and the afternoon flight also leaves 10 minutes earlier at 4.20pm (every day except Saturday). There is also a change to the time of the last flight out of Auckland, now scheduled for 5.45pm (every day except Saturday) instead of the previous 6pm. Charter services are also available on the 18 and 50-seater aircraft with Air Chathams able to cater to the specific requirements of groups including an on-board catering and beverage service. The beautifully restored DC3 is available for special charter of scenic flights.

Sunair's New Whakatane Air Services

Tauranga-based Sunair Aviation Limited is introducing a range of new services linking Whakatane to other regional centres. From Monday Sunair will offer scheduled weekday services from Whakatane Airport to Hamilton, Gisborne and Napier at times to suit business travellers. Sunair spokesman Ryan Bergman said the company was “very excited” about the development of the new routes and providing for business and private traveller links between the centres. “Sunair has been providing air services to and from the Bay of Plenty for more than 25 years and we believe there is both a demand and considerable potential to expand scheduled flights linking North Island regions. “We’re delighted to include Whakatane in our route structure and look forward building a solid relationship with the business and wider community in the Eastern Bay of Plenty,”  Mr Bergman says. Services to and from Whakatane will be serviced by Sunair’s fleet of 10 Piper Aztec aircraft, each of which can carry five passengers. Mayor Tony Bonne has applauded the Sunair service initiative. “There is a definite gap in the market for scheduled services between regional centres and I think businesspeople will welcome the chance to be able to carry out a full day’s work in Gisborne, Napier and Hamilton without having to spend half of their time on the road,” he said. “We wish them well and encourage the community to support these new services.” Flight times have been scheduled to suit business travellers, with departures for Gisborne and Napier at 9.30am, Monday to Friday. Afternoon return flights depart from Napier at 4.00pm and Gisborne at 5.00pm, arriving at Whakatane Airport at 5.30pm. There will also be a Gisborne-Whakatane morning flight, departing at 7.00am and arriving in Whakatane at 7.30am. Whakatane-Hamilton flights will also be available Monday to Friday, departing Whakatane Airport at 7.45am and 5.45pm. Return flights will depart from Hamilton at 8.45am and 6.45pm, arriving at Whakatane at 9.15am and 7.15pm respectively. Fares will be $290 one-way, including GST. Bookings can be made online (www.sunair.co.nz), or by phone (0800 SUNAIR).

Local Coverage of First Sounds Air Service from WSZ

Front teeth missing and piglets swaying, Ciara Pugh settled into a front seat of Sounds Air’s new Westport plane yesterday and declared: “I’m the only one in my class here.” Minutes earlier the six-year-old South School pupil had been among four people chosen in a lucky draw for a scenic 10-minute flight from Westport Airport. “I haven’t been on a plane yet, this is my first time,” said Ciara. “My toy monkey’s been on a plane to Auckland,” she added. Behind her, passengers were commenting on how much bigger the plane seemed inside than the Air New Zealand Beech it has replaced. The PC12 has only nine seats compared to the Beech’s 19, but has more leg and head room. The seats are more comfortable and every passenger has a window seat. The former Royal Australian Flying Doctor plane, which has been refitted, smelled of new carpet. Pilot Maama Gueta came through to check the seat belts (unlike Air New Zealand each is both a lap and a diagonal belt) and co-pilot Willie Sage asked passengers where they wanted to go. “Gold Coast”, “North”, “Somewhere warm”, people responded. After a short taxi the PC12 rose smoothly off the tarmac and climbed to 6000 feet – well below its maximum of 30,000 feet. Passengers commented it was much quieter than a Beech. “It’s completely different riding,” said House of Travel manager Kelly Charlton. “It’s like being in a private jet… I feel like a Kardashian.” The extra leg room would make it much easier to fit in cabin baggage, unlike the Beech, she said. Ciara was fascinated by the view. “We are up in the clouds…” she said. “The town looks like a  tiny little hand.” Then “We have a television in my school in every single classroom.” Passengers applauded after the plane landed. Ciara was still wide-eyed. “It was cool. I never thought the town was so tiny when you  were up, up, up.”

About 100 people turned up at Westport Airport to welcome Westport’s new Sounds Air service yesterday afternoon. The band played and sausages sizzled as Sounds Air’s nine-seater Pilatus PC12 took off. Air New Zealand’s 19-seater Beech 1900D had flown between Westport and Wellington for the last time yesterday morning. Buller Mayor Garry Howard told last night’s crowd his council had been “gobsmacked” when Air New Zealand announced last November that it was abandoning Westport. He said the council quickly decided Westport couldn’t do without an air service and set out to find one that would work for the community. After considering four expressions of interest from various companies, it had opted for Sounds Air whose proposal was “head and shoulders above everybody else”, Mr Howard said. He thanked council staff, particularly Westport Airport chief executive Sonia Cresswell, for securing it. “She’s really put her heart and soul – far above the number of hours she’s paid for.”  Ms Cresswell would be the “check-in lady, bag lady and CEO” in the meantime, he said. Sounds Air managing director Andrew Crawford said the airline had been flying across Cook Strait for almost 30 years in single-engine Cessna Caravans. The Cessnas weren’t suitable for the Westport route so Sounds Air sought another option. “We needed something high and fast and there it is outside.” Sounds Air has bought two Swiss-made PC12s (worth $3 million each), formerly Australian flying doctor planes. Another would arrive in New Zealand today, on lease, for the new Sounds Air WellingtonTaupo service, Mr Crawford said. Air New Zealand has also abandoned that route. “That (the Taupo service) is a good knock-on service for Westport because three aircraft in the air helping each other service each route will be amazing.” He thanked council staff, his own staff, and Mr Howard for helping get the Westport service under way, and the local community for supporting it. “This is not ‘come in and see how it goes’,” he added. “We have committed for six years. Sure we are not going to fly it empty, but the way it’s been there’s been a great uptake.” West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor recalled another Air New Zealand pull-out from Westport about 30 years ago, when Air Nelson took over. He said Air Nelson went on to become an outstanding success. “If Air New Zealand continue in the way they are, to cut back regional services, I hope Sounds Air becomes as big and successful as Air Nelson… “You can’t have Air Part of New Zealand – it’s either Air New Zealand or it’s not.” Mr O’Connor believed Air New Zealand would come to rue its Westport decision. In the meantime, he said it was up to Buller to build on opportunities the new air service offered. He said he had flown in smaller Pilatus planes on the Tasman Glacier and was looking forward to flying in the PC12. “What do Swiss build that is anything but the best?” Local aviation enthusiast David Barnes said today that a passenger on the last Air New Zealand flight into Westport, who told The News the PC12 looked about the same size as a wing on the Beech 1900D, was being a bit unfair. Mr Barnes said the Beech was 3.2 metres longer and the wingspan was 1.4 metres wider than the Sounds Air plane, but the PC12 was far more technically advanced. The Beech was first flown in 1982 after a major modification to give full headroom. He said 695 aircraft were produced and the Beech was now out of production. “Compare the PC 12, which was first flown in 1991, with production at 1500 aircraft in 2014 and is still being produced.”

Source : Westport News, 29 April 2015

Local Coverage of Final Air NZ Flight to WSZ

Just four people boarded Air New Zealand’s final flight out of Westport this morning, bound for Wellington. After 68 years of operating out of Westport, Air New Zealand announced in October last year it was abandoning the service. Air New Zealand regional airlines general manager Sarah Williamson said today that pulling out was a hard decision. “It’s a pity that the aircraft economics make it difficult for us to continue to fly the aircraft… The Beech Fleet have been around in Air New Zealand flights for a long time… [But] in order to cover the costs we needed to sell 15 of the 19 seats,” she said. “[We] haven’t been selling those numbers.” Picton-based Sounds Air takes over the service this evening, offering more flights and a better timetable, but a smaller (nine-seater) plane. One of today’s departing passengers, Debbie Daniels, said she had been a regular user of the service in the past, and was not bothered by the change in the service provider. “We are lucky to have it… If you don’t use it you lose it.” Ms Daniels said the increase in the cost of tickets would not stop her from using the service. “It doesn’t worry me because if you want to go somewhere you have to pay… I think it’s brilliant having it here.” Sounds Air will charge a fixed price of $199 for the 40-minute flight. Air New Zealand charged between $99 and $400, depending on when a ticket was booked, for a 50-minute flight. A woman, who declined to give her name, was among passengers on today’s last flight into Westport. “I look at that Sounds Air plane, the whole plane only looks as big as the wing on that plane,” she said, pointing to Air New Zealand’s Beech. However, she would be taking a flight on the Sounds Air plane next month, and would “see how it goes”. Hamilton-based plane enthusiast Steve Lowe, who had been visiting in Christchurch, made a special trip to Westport this morning to witness the last flight. An aviation historian, Mr Lowe had been putting together a history of Westport’s air services. He said final flights by Air New Zealand in and out of Westport were under the command of Captain Andrew Mercer, and First Officer Jason McDonald. Sounds Air will offer 26 flights a week – six more than Air New Zealand – with earlier morning departures and later evening return flights to suit business passengers. Mondays and Fridays – the busiest days of the week – will feature three return flights. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays will offer two return flights. The first flight will leave Westport at 6.15am. The last flight will return at 6.40pm. There will be one return flight on a Sunday evening. Development West Coast has provided a commercial loan to buy one of the two $3 million former Royal Australian Flying Doctor Service PC12 planes for the service. Sounds Air has a six- year deal with the Buller District Council which will guarantee the first three seats per flight. Sounds Air has just announced a similar deal with the Taupo District Council to take over the Taupo-Wellington service, which Air New Zealand also abandoned today. Sounds Air managing director Andrew Crawford told The News recently that the airline would need to buy another PC12 for the route. He said Sounds Air was also looking at a Greymouth-Wellington service and a Blenheim-Napier service. However, he promised Westport’s new service would not suffer if any of them went ahead. “Westport is a guarantee.” Sounds Air’s six-year agreement with the Taupo council means the airline will provide at least three return flights on each week day and two return flights on Saturdays and Sundays, starting as soon as possible. In return, the council will guarantee the first three seats per flight. Air New Zealand today also abandoned its Auckland to Kaitaia service, where Great Barrier Airlines is stepping in, and Whakatane to Auckland, where Air Chathams will take over. As well as pulling out of those towns, Air New Zealand’s regional carrier Eagle Air will scale back on serving other towns over the next year and will cease as an airline after nearly 50 years of flying. The first Sounds Air flight will leave Westport at 4.50pm today. 

Source : Westport News, 28 April 2015

Sounds Air Wine Country Service Seems More Likely

Wine lovers will likely be able to zip between Hawke's Bay and Marlborough on a new air service as soon as August. Sounds Air managing director Andrew Crawford said there was a "high likelihood" a service would be up and running between Napier and Blenheim. "Our hands are tremendously full, as you can imagine," he said, of the carrier's expansion. It has recently picked up two services which are being dropped by Air New Zealand: a Westport service starting tomorrow, and a Taupo-to-Wellington route starting soon. A nine-seater Pilatus PC12 plane could be flying between Hawke's Bay and Marlborough as soon as August. "Securing the Taupo service, Hawke's Bay is looking more likely because it means we've got to buy another aircraft." A Hawke's Bay service, first tipped to be in the pipeline last month, would initially consist of two return flights on Mondays and Tuesdays - one in the morning and one at night, Mr Crawford said. The Marlborough region is the country's biggest wine producer, while Hawke's Bay is the second biggest. "What we're trying to achieve is for people in the wine industry and people who want to commute between the two wine regions, of which there are a lot." But it could also be used by tourists and locals. The company currently has two Pilatus PC12 planes, and is considering buying a third. The Swiss-made planes seat nine. Mr Crawford said people should not be fooled by the aircraft's single engine - the flight from Napier to Blenheim would take only 45 minutes. "They're pressurised. They go high and fast - very fast. They're a turbine-powered aircraft. The biggest user [of them] is the [US] air force." Sounds Air has operated for more than 25 years and is regarded as a specialist Cook Strait flyer. The company has its own airport near Picton and also links Nelson, Wellington, Paraparaumu and Wanganui. Mr Crawford said the cost for passengers of a Napier-Blenheim service had yet to be worked out. A check last night showed the cheapest fare on the national airliner from Napier to Blenheim on Saturday and returning on Sunday was $537. Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said the proposed service was "very exciting for Hawke's Bay". "I think it's fantastic, not just for Napier but for the whole of Hawke's Bay. We choose to live in Napier and Hawke's Bay because of the lifestyle, but we do need connectivity with the rest of the country and the world. Any connectivity coming in and out of Napier has got to be good for tourism." Hawke's Bay Airport chief executive Nick Story said the company was "very much looking forward" to working with Sounds Air. "The Sounds Air proposal for a direct air link between Hawke's Bay and Marlborough is great news for our wine industry in particular, and also has the potential to stimulate tourism growth in the respective regions over time." Last month, the airport announced a $5 million terminal upgrade and a new name - Ahuriri Airport Hawke's Bay.

Air New Zealand last flights and their replacements

Yesterday, 28 April 2015, Air New Zealand withdrew from Whakatane, Kaitaia and Westport as well as the Taupo-Wellington route.

Beech 1900 ZK-EAE operated the final flight from Whakatane to Auckland (EAG532) and the final return flight from Auckland to Kaitaia  (EAG602 and EAG603). Air Chathams Convair 580 operated the first flight to Whakatane (CVA580). Great Barrier Airlines have yet to start their service to Kaitaia. 

Beech 1900 ZK-EAI operated the final Taupo-Wellington service (EAG501). Sounds Air are now moving towards picking up this route.

Beech 1900 ZK-EAN operted the final return flight from Wellington to Westport (EAG587/EAG588) under the command of Captain Andrew Mercer and First Officer Jason McDonald. In the afternoon Sounds Air Pilatus PC12 flew the first return service from Westport to Wellington (SDA988/SDA989) under the command of Willie Sage and Naama Gueta. 

28 April 2015

Sounds Air's Westport Service Takes Off

A new chapter of aviation history began this afternoon with Sounds Air introducing Westport to its network replacing the previous Air New Zealand service to and from Wellington. The difference between the end of Air New Zealand service and the launch of the Sounds Air service couldn't be marked. There was no fan fare to farewell the Air New Zealand service and only a half dozen people came out to watch. With the Sounds Air service the band was there, the Lions put on a sausage sizzle and well about 150 people gathered to check out the Pilatus PC-12. My feeling is Westport people will soon be calling it "our plane." Here is some of the highlights of the day...

Sounds Air's Pilatus PC-12 ZK-PLS arrives from Wellington on 28 April 2015.

A closer look at the PC-12 with the doors open

...and a look in the accommodation 
and the front service
In the terminal the signage had changed...
...while outside the band played.
Sound Air's Andrew Crawford (left) talking about the new air service and the forthcoming air service from Wellington to Taupo. As part of this he announced that a leased Pilatus will be crossing the Tasman tomorrow to become ZK-PLT. In the centre Sounds Air's chief pilot Willie Sage and on the right Buller District mayor Gary Howard
The Pilatus heads out on a quick scenic for the media and four lucky winners drawn from the crowd 
...and it comes back!

Now boarding, Sounds Air flight 988 to Wellington... with Damien O'Connor MP for Tasman-West Coast being one of the passengers.

Sounds Air 988 taxis at Westport under the command of Willie Sage and Naama Gueta
Airborne for Wellington

Sounds Air flies 13 return flights between Wellington and Westport. 
Bookings can be made at www.soundsair.com

For more on Sounds Air see 

End of Link - Westport farewells Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand subsidiary Eagle Air operated its final service into Westport this morning.  The final service was operated under the command of Captain Andrew Mercer and First Officer Jason McDonald in Beech 1900D ZK-EAN. It was ironic that the flight's captain head the same surname as the legendary Captain Bert Mercer who began air services on the West Coast in 1934. 13 passengers flew into Westport on Eagle flight NZ2587 while only 5 passengers flew out on the last flight, NZ2588. Just a handful of spectators came to watch the final flight which which ended 67 years of air services to Westport by the national carrier.

The last flight, NZ2587, arrives into Westport on 28 April 2015

The Eagle Air crew, Captain Andrew Mercer (left) and First Officer Jason McDonald (right) with Eagle Air's Westport ground staff
The sign greeting departing passengers...
Perhaps it should have read,
"Haere ra, departing regional New Zealand, Eagle Airways"
Now boarding... the final five passengers
The wave says it all

Air New Zealand departs Westport for the final time

...and ZK-EAN flies into history

Westport - Index of Posts

Today marks the last day of Air New Zealand services to Westport... I had intended to do a pictorial post on the NAC and Air New Zealand service to Westport but got somewhat inspired and started writing a fuller history... Over the next few months I will do a series of posts. In the meantime some are already done. The post on Golden Coast Airlines has been updated.

To be written... However there is a post on Air Travel services to Greymouth