06 September 2015

Farewell to the Boeing 737

Thanks Grayson for this excellent piece

Air New Zealand Flight 557 from Auckland to Christchurch landed at 2008hrs and brought the curtain down on Air New Zealand’s 737 ops. 

Boeing 737-300 ZK-NGI had a busy last day too!

NZ405 Auckland-Wellington
NZ412 Wellington-Auckland
NZ441 Auckland-Wellington
NZ448 Wellington-Auckland
NZ521 Auckland-Christchurch
NZ532 Christchurch-Auckland
NZ557 Auckland-Christchurch

ZK-NGI overnights in Christchurch tonight before flying a good-bye tour from Tuesday 08/September spread over a couple of weeks. From Christchurch she heads to Invercargill, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, Auckland locals – multiple times then back to Christchurch – bowing out on the 21st.

It is a fitting that this month is the last for the 737. On 18 September 1968 NAC as customer '19' for Boeing - all Air New Zealand's Boeings are 7X7-x19 gets its first 737-200.

The first Boeing 737-300 joined the mainline fleet on 9 January 1998 when ZK-NGA was delivered in a special “Millennium” colour scheme. Freedom Air has 733’s in service in 1996. A total of twenty-three Boeing 737-300s have operated for Air New Zealand with twenty-one being company aircraft and two operating on short term. Air NZ actually purchased the last 737-300 ever built, ZK-NGJ, which was delivered on December 1999.

The Boeing 737-300 was used on Trans Tasman and some Pacific flights however with the arrival of the first Airbus A320s in 2003 the 737-300s were moved to Domestic duties where they have remained ever since.

Historic air-to-air footage of ZK-NAC


Here is some lovely Boeing 737-200 footage


ZK-NGI on the gate at Auckland  for the last flight... from Twitter


  1. Also if we go back nearly 1 year ago the 747 also retired in September. September has some history with Air New Zealand

  2. The customer numbers were always a big odd though as their sequence started at '20' and rotated back to 19, so NAC was really Boeing's 99th customer. Air New Zealand itself was allocated customer number F1, but never took it up pre-NAC merger.

  3. This nation really should be preserving a ‘kiwi’ 737 as part of it’s heritage. It has perhaps even surpassed the DC-8 in the 47 years service. Here, unlike the impressive preservation of significant jetliners over in Oz (or many parts of the globe), we seem to have a quiak and barely heralded farewell , then the aircraft type retired are sent to the boneyard, or second hand buyer, before eventually the boneyard, and forgotten.
    The 737 has become an icon in our lands over the last near 5 decades, with many people making their first ever flight in a 737, and one of the most successful yet unsung transport success stories. All of NAC’s key aircraft have been preserved – except for it’s biggest player – the 737.
    There are a few ex Air NZ series 200s still languishing on borrowed time and even by luck, the second delivered to NAC, ZK-NAD, (19930, the 66th 737 ever built). She sits in a corner of Maxton Laurinburg, Carolina USA, minus flaps, engines etc. What would it take with some sponsorship to purchase her at scrap price, get her shipped over get spare time expired parts, a couple of expired JT8D-7 engines from a boneyard and restore her to her original NAC livery?
    And forget not that the significance of the purchase of those first 3 came exactly 50 years of our previous trade with Boeing, which was when the Walsh brother purchased Boeing numbers 1 and 2, a poignant link with the maker that was indeed remembered when ZK-NAC rolled out at Renton, a replica of the seaplane was brought along side for photos.
    The sad derelict ‘NAD, restored and gleaming in her original plumes would be an instant gem of our heritage. I’ve batted for years to get interest in this being saved before it’s too late.
    Another significant 737 is the longest serving in NZ, ZK-NQC, (22994) the combi quick change aircraft that continued to fly the fast post after Air NZ days until 2011 – 29 years service. Now out of airframe hours in Canada.
    Retired jetliners have became popular for themed pubs, bars and restaurants among other non flying uses, which pay for acquiring it. Imagine for example a 737-200 preserved and done as a restaurant a new attractive landmark in one of the sad looking vacant lots in downtown Christchurch, quake proof and heritage preserved, so it ticks a few boxes in one go.
    Could Air NZ be persuaded to be a bit less ‘crazy about rugby’ and a bit more crazy about their own heritage, which is surely not so crazy. Look at what Qantas does, for a good example.
    A final happy note, one ex Air NZ 737-200 is now in a museum, the SAA museum took ex ZK-NAV a year ago. They are another example keeping up with the times in terms of aircraft preservation. http://www.saamuseum.co.za/our-aircraft/102.html

  4. And the brilliant about the last flight was this . . . of the 133 seats there were 122 passengers . . . and of that number 50% were deliberately on the flight to be able to say "I enjoyed having the last fly in a 737" . . . it was great fun, crew were really bubbly and also right into sharing a glass of bubbly with all of the passengers . . . coming on top of the cup of coffee . . . and yes, the crew did not have one !!!!! Guaranteed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. An F27-500 and 737-200, both in 1980s AirNZ colours would be great preservation pieces. Both aircraft types are of historical significance to New Zealand.