25 September 2019

Airliner to Accommodation

An aircraft that has spent around 50 years taking travellers to the sky is set for a different type of retirement on the ground in Whanganui. Air Chathams' aircraft ZK-CIF has been bought by Castlecliff resident James Barron, who plans on turning it into accommodation. The project began to take off several months ago with Barron eyeing up different options online before landing on the Air Chathams ZK-CIF Convair 580. "I'd gone to bid on a smaller one earlier on Trade Me and that ended up going for a pretty ridiculous price. "A freighter that Air Chathams is disposing of came up and we entered negotiations, and that's when [Air Chathams general manager] Duane Emeny said they've also got the CIF, which is fully kitted out. "I think when they realised we were talking about doing a serious project and not just cutting the nose off and making a 10 metre square man shed, they wanted to help the old girl get a really good retirement."  The aircraft began life with Belgian airline Sabena in 1956 and spent around 12 years in Europe before being taken to the United States. For almost the next four decades the aircraft was used for travel in the United States and was mostly based in Texas and Alaska. In 2005 Air Chathams bought the aircraft and initially tasked it with flights in Tonga and Fiji as part of Chathams Pacific. The CIF was then used to take travellers between Whanganui and Auckland. It was fully repainted in Air Chathams' colours in 2016. Barron said he is now looking at costs to get the aircraft from Auckland to Whanganui for conversion work. "We've engaged in feasibility discussions with different levels of [Whanganui District] council, and Whanganui and Partners have been great. They see the potential for something different and striking in Whanganui as well." When it comes to what the inside of the 52-seat aircraft may look like after conversion, Barron said he's leaving it up to the experts. "Largely, we're getting a motorhome conversion crew to have a look at it and give us their advice." Emeny said the company had to make a decision around two aircraft in its fleet. "One required major corrosion repair that could not be justified for the amount of use we would recover from the aircraft.  "The other was cargo only and surplus to requirements, so rather than purchasing additional engines and accessories we decided to part out that aircraft to support the remainder of our Convair fleet." It's the only occasion the company has sold any of its fleet to a private buyer in the last 10 years. Emeny said he was excited to see an Air Chathams' aircraft given a unique second life, especially in Whanganui, where the company has a great deal of civic pride. The Convair 580 is to be placed near Karaka St, where it will have a connection to its former life, as it sits under the Castlecliff flight path.

Source : Whanganui Chronicle, 25 September 2019

Convair 580 ZK-CIF at Auckland on 30 December 2018

Air Chathams now have three Convairs in their fleet, ZK-CIE in full passenger configuration, ZK-CIB in Combi configuration and ZK-KFL as a pure freighter.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I live on Karaka Street! This is very exciting news and it’s front page news, I’ll have to buy a copy of the paper. I was Googling for the aircraft’s history and found this website that may be worth following: https://www.castlecliff.nz/zkcif

    I’m excited to follow along and hopefully be there when the airframe arrives.