01 September 2018

Growing an Airline - Barrier Air on the Rise

Barrier Air has purchased a third Cessna Grand Caravan which is due to join the fleet in mid-October.

With the announcement of this exciting news I had the opportunity to speak with Nick Pearson, who was recently promoted as Barrier Air's CEO. Air. It's clear from my conversation with Nick that Barrier Air has been quietly working behind the scenes to develop a quality product for its Great Barrier Island and Kaitaia services.

Barrier Air's new CEO, Nick Pearson

The new Caravan, which will be registered ZK-SDD, will feature the same G1000 GPS glass cockpit suite and Garmin integrated autopilot systems that are a feature of the company’s other two Caravans, ZK-SDB and ZK-SDC. The technology that Barrier Air employ on their Caravans also includes synthetic vision systems. How this works in practice is using GPS and other databases the pilot can “look through” clouds and see terrain. If the terrain is coming too close the terrain turns red! Getting the technology right has been a major investment exercise for Barrier Air. Flying into Auckland can mean a lot of holding for larger aircraft. The new technology and patient working and developing of relationships with Airways and the airport company has enabled Barrier to develop IT systems to coordinate arrival slots in Auckland. The G1000 suite allows quick response to ATC requirements as the Barrier Air Caravans approach Auckland at busy times. All this investment has significantly reduced holding times at Auckland and vastly improved the quality of the service delivered to the customer. 

The glass cockpit as seen in ZK-SDB in November 2015

The purchase of the new Caravan comes as Barrier Air looks to relaunch services between North Shore and Great Barrier Island from the 10th of September. The new schedule is not ideal but with a new Caravan now on the horizon this may well be reviewed, especially for peak Friday and Sunday services. The North Shore service had been losing patronage before the Islanders had ended the service and so the company has taken its time to re-enter the market with a robust service that has the advantage now of being able to operate IFR. The Caravans will be load-restricted to 12 passengers inbound and 10 out. The company has one aircraft with a STOL kit which would enable 12 passengers out but until a second aircraft receives a STOL kit the load restriction will remain.

The two Caravans, ZK-SDB and ZK-SDC soon to be joined by ZK-SDD

The addition of the North Shore service follows on from growing the existing routes. The Kaitaia service has really grown and improved and the start-up issues that dogged that service have been resolved. The local community itself has recognised the improvements and reliability and with building passengers loads the company is now looking at ways to develop the Kaitaia service.

Great Barrier Island is also going well. Barrier Air’s peak season is usually late October to April but the August passenger numbers this year have surpassed those of some previous peak months. With the impending arrival of the third Caravan, from the 15th of October two additional Auckland-Great Barrier weekday return flights have been scheduled with an additional flight on Saturdays and Sundays as follows;

AKL-GBI   DxSu   GB587   Dep 0900 Arr 0930
GBI-AKL   DxSu   GB588   Dep 1000 Arr 1030

AKL-GBI   DxSa   GB595   Dep 1700 Arr 1730
GBI-AKL   DxSa   GB596   Dep 1800 Arr 1830

Looking ahead Barrier Air is planning to add other products to the Auckland market using the Caravan. The company is also looking to develop a standard airline wide livery over the next couple of years. And it is also looking for more opportunities to grow and develop its services over the next few years. It might be a matter of “watch this space.”

For Bookings go to

Many thanks to Barrier Air’s Nick Pearson for having this conversation and sharing the exciting developments that are part of the unfolding Barrier Air story.

1 comment:

  1. The barrier re-rises/awakens. This little "3rd level" airline working behind the scene reinventing itself although I love the islanders and trilanders, the new caravans are going to take this airline to the next level. Good news to hear a new livery to give them a corporate/business edge and a image to the average Joe blog....
    Does anyone miss the native bird schemes???? Maybe the very rare chevron skink (only found on the barrier...) snaking its way from the tail down the body