11 March 2018

Air Wellington - Another Paraparaumu Commuter Airline


In 1992 Welair Ltd was formed by Richard Bull, Brian Davison, Richard Joel and Richard Baldwin to take over the Paraparaumu based Gold Coast Air Ltd which offered training and charter services.

A couple of Welair's single engine charter and training fleet, above Cessna 182RG Skylane ZK-EKL
and below Cessna 172 ZK-FCW. Both photos taken at Paraparaumu

In June 1996 Richard Baldwin formed his own company, Air Wellington Ltd, and purchased Piper PA31-310 Navajo ZK-WHW. Air Wellington leased this aircraft to Welair but Air Wellington was to be name under which the scheduled air services operated.

Air Wellington's Piper Navajo ZK-WHW taken at Gisborne on 28 September 1998

In the summer of 1996/97 Welair started twice weekly services between Paraparaumu and Nelson using Piper Navajo ZK-WHW. These services ran in the late afternoon/early evening on Fridays and Sundays. In April 1997 Piper PA23-250 Aztec ZK-DUB was added to the fleet and this was also used on the Nelson service.

Nelson Evening Mail, March 1997

Piper Aztec ZK-DUB at Nelson on 2 January 1998

Air Wellington's timetable for the Nelson service effective 16 May 1997

In late July 1997 Welair, trading as Air Wellington, picked up United Aviation’s courier freight run from Palmerston North to Napier and Gisborne after United was grounded by the Civil Aviation Authority. Air Wellington’s managing director Richard Baldwin, told the Kapiti Observer that the company decided instead to use its own aircraft and pilots to continue the service. "The service United provided had a lot of regular customers from Palmerston North and we felt it was unfair to deprive them of that service." 

The first flight was flown on using Piper Navajo ZK-WHW. The service was extended to start and terminate at Paraparaumu with the company offering twice daily weekday flights on the Paraparaumu-Palmerston North-Napier Gisborne service. Richard Baldwin agreed the 6am departure is early but says it allows those getting on at Palmerston North to get in a full days work in Napier or Gisborne. “We can have you in Napier by 7.30am and Gisborne an hour later.” I think that's pretty good timing. A return flight from Paraparaumu to Palmerston North costs $70 and takes 30 minutes each way. "That's about the same price as a return bus trip but who wants to travel on congested roads when you can fly there in half the time. 

Air Wellington timetable effective 1 August 1997

The East Coast courier service necessitated the purchase of a larger aircraft and Piper Chieftain ZK-MCM was purchased from Mount Cook Airlines in August 1997. By November 1997 the Nelson-Paraparaumu service had been extended to three days a week with the addition of a Wednesday flight. These Nelson schedule was adjusted enabling connection with the Palmerston North, Napier and Gisborne service. Connections were also made available at Napier with Sunair flights to and from Hamilton and Tauranga.

Air Wellington's Piper Chieftain ZK-MCM still in its Mount Cook Airline's colour scheme at Paraparaumu on 5 December 1997

Chieftain ZK-MCM repainted at Queenstown on a charter on 12 April 1998

Air Wellington timetable, effective 17 November 1997

A second Piper Aztec, ZK-DIO, was acquired in August 1998.

The Air Wellington services continued until the 19th of February 1999 when the Air Service Certificate, Training Organisation Certificate and Aerial Work Certificate held by Welair were suspended by the Civil Aviation Authority. 

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