08 April 2018

Southern Courier - Aerial Charter (Southland)

Aerial Charter (Southland) Ltd was incorporated as a private limited liability company in Christchurch on the 13th of November 1975. The five shareholder/directors, G M Orbell, A N Eccles, N J Robertson, A C Mitchell and G B Orbell, the "Piper Comanche Partnership", owned Piper PA39 Twin Comanche ZK-ECS for their own private use as well as hiring out the aircraft to training organisations for advanced flying instruction and for private charter.

In 1976 the new company applied for an air service licence to operate an air charter and air taxi service from Invercargill to any licensed aerodrome in New Zealand using the Piper Twin Comanche. Several local companies and individuals submitted evidence letters of support and public interest. Supporting evidence also claimed that local sporting, farming and cultural groups members wished to travel to areas not served by scheduled airlines. The company was duly granted its air services licence on the 10th of June 1976 with the service to commence not later than the 1st July of 1976. 

By September 1976 Aerial Charter (Southland) Ltd had inaugurated a weekday Invercargill-Dunedin-Christchurch freight service on behalf of Airfast Freight Ltd, which leased Aerial Charter's Twin Comanche. This service was usually flown by company pilot Jeff Sly. A connection was made with Capital Air Services’ courier services at Christchurch. During the weekend the Twin Comanche was available for general charter work. However, the courier service was short-lived and had ended by the 31st of March 1977. At that date the aircraft had flown 523.7 hours and carried 211 passengers and 47,856kg of freight. 

Air Charter (Southland)'s Piper Pa39 Twin Comanche at Timaru on 29 February 1979

With the service ended the company applied to temporarily replace the Twin Comanche with a Cessna 185. The aircraft in question was operated by Hollyford Air Travel and due to the seasonal nature of Hollyford Air's business in northern Fiordland the aircraft was not required by that company until the spring. On the 1st of May 1978 the Licensing Authority approved an amendment of the company’s licence by deleting the Twin Comanche in favour of the addition of a Beech Baron, ZK-SUN, to the fleet.  
In November 1978 Aerial Charter (Southland) successfully returned to the Air Services Licensing Authority seeking permission to add a Cessna 177 Cardinal, ZK-DRC, to their fleet to "exclusively for work contracted by Hollyford Tourist and Travel Company Ltd". 

However, without the regular courier service there was no real demand for the company’s charter and air taxi services and these ceased in 1981. On the 29th of  November 1982 Aerial Charter (Southland)’s licence was revoked. 

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