30 November 2019

Jetstar's Regional Network Laid to Rest

Jetstar ended its regional operations Bombardier Q300 services this evening. Jetstar's last regional flight, JQ378, from Nelson to Auckland has just landed. 

The Auckland-based regional operations began on the 1st of December 2015. Initially flights were offered from Auckland to Napier and Nelson. On the first day of operations Q300 VH-SBI flew Napier–Auckland–Nelson–Auckland–Napier as “SCR 350/371/372/357”. On the 1st of February 2016 flights began between Auckland and New Plymouth (first flight operated by VH-SBI), Auckland and Palmerston North (first flight operated by VH-TQM) and Nelson and Wellington.

By March 2016 Jetstar was operating its full schedule of 27 flights per week from Auckland to each of its regional ports, that is, Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Auckland, and 21 flights per week between Nelson and Wellington

The initial frequency was found to be too high and the schedule for winter 2017 saw flights reduced to 14 flights a week between Auckland and New Plymouth and 22 flights per week between Auckland and Palmerston North. The services between Wellington and Nelson were reduced from 3 to 2 daily flights. There continued to be seasonal fluctuation over the coming years.

In announcing the decision to end the regional services on the 25th of September 2019 Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans said the decision came about due to an increase in costs and a drop in demand. "We understand there will be disappointment in regional centres at today's announcement," he said. "The New Zealand regional market is facing some headwinds, with softer demand and higher fuel costs and we don't see the outlook changing any time soon. "We have given it a real go. However, despite four years of hard work - including becoming the most on-time of the two major regional airlines and having high customer satisfaction - our regional network continues to be loss-making." The airline had lost $20 million flying the regional network last year.

Lining up at Auckland Airport for the last day's services, Jetstar Bombardier Q300s VH-TQD, VH-TQL VH-SBI VH-TQM. Thanks to Philip Kyle for this awesome historical photo.  

The final services into Auckland on 30 November 2019

On the final day of operations the following sectors were operated.

VH-SBI operated AKL-NSN (JQ371), NSN-WLG (JQ391), WLG-NSN (JQ390), NSN-AKL (JQ372), AKL-NSN (JQ375) NSN-WLG (JQ395) WLG-NSN (JQ394), NSN-AKL (JQ376)

VH-TQD operated AKL-PMR (JQ381), PMR-AKL (JQ382), AKL-NPL (JQ361), NPL-AKL (JQ362), AKL-NPE (JQ355), NPE-AKL (JQ356), AKL-NSN (JQ377) , NSN-AKL (JQ378)

VH-TQL operated AKL-NPE (JQ351), NPE-AKL (JQ352), AKL-NPE (JQ353), NPE-AKL (JQ354), AKL-NPE (JQ355), NPE-AKL (JQ356), AKL-NPL (JQ365), NPL-AKL (JQ364), AKL-PMR (JQ387), PMR-AKL (JQ388)

VH-TQM operated AKL-NSN (JQ377), NSN-AKL (JQ378), AKL-NSN (JQ373), NSN-WLG (JQ393), WLG-NSN (JQ392), NSN-AKL (JQ374),

Over the four years Jetstar operated six Bombardier Q300s on its regional services...

VH-SBI at Auckland on 19 January 2019
VH-SBW at Auckland on 3 December 2017
VH-TQD at Auckland on 1 August 2016
VH-TQK at Auckland on 5 April 2018
VH-TQL at Auckland on 20 January 2019
VH-TQM at Nelson on 24 January 2018

29 November 2019

Whakatāne Saab services commence

Air Chathams commenced Saab 340 services to Whakatāne today with the first flights, 3C 824 to Whakatāne and the return flight to Auckland 3C 829 being flown in Saab 340 ZK-KRA under the command of Captain Mitch Brady and First Office Jacob Stead while the passengers were under the care of Flight Attendant Nicki Hayes.

The Saabs will operate the Friday afternoon flights from Auckland to Whakatāne at 3.15pm and 6.35pm and the Whakatāne to Auckland Friday afternoon service at 4.45pm. It will also operate the Saturday morning 8.00am flight from Whakatāne to Auckland. On Sundays the Saab will operate from Auckland to Whakatāne at 11.00am and 6.15pm, and from Whakatāne to Auckland at 4.45pm. On Mondays the Saab will operate the morning flight from Whakatāne to Auckland at 6.45am.

First Officer Jacob Stead

Saab 340 ZK-KRA at Whakatane on the inaugural flight on 29 November 2019

Originair Airborne... Again

After a year of not operating regular services, Originair today resumed scheduled operations. BAe Jestream 31 ZK-JSH operating flight OG3215 with the callsign ORIGIN 31 has departed from Nelson for Palmerston North and will later operate flight OG3216 from Palmerston North to Nelson. The company's reservation system shows this is the recommencement of regular services between Nelson and Palmerston North. In recent days Originair said it would recommence New Plymouth and Napier services once the new terminals are complete and new handlers have been found for their flights. Previously Swissport, which handled the Jetstar services, serviced the Originair flights.

Originair's problems began in September last year when air2there, which operated Originair's services ceased operations. The Jetstream ZK-JSH operated a Nelson-Palmerston North-Nelson service with callsign AIR2THERE 61 on the 12th of September 2018 and the Jetstream has not flown on regular services since.

Originair then used aircraft from Air Chathams, Skyline Aviation and Air Wanganui to operate their services until the weekend of the 30th of November 2018 when services ceased. Some holiday flights were operated for Originair at Easter and in September by Air Wanganui.

In a press release today Originair announced that This week the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA) issued a Part 125 Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) to Nelson-based airline Originair.

“We are very pleased to receive our Air Operator’s Certificate as this provides a sound foundation for our future and security for our customers,” said Originair’s CEO Robert Inglis.

“Since 2015 we have operated our services through contracted arrangements with other AOC holders however it’s now time to base the next phase of operational development on our own Air Operator’s Certificate. Originair will operate its own Jetstream aircraft independently from 29 November 2019.”

Originair's schedule shows the airline is currently intending to operate four services each week between Nelson and Palmerston North.

Also being prepared for service

Thanks to Mitch Brady for these great pictures of Air Chathams' Douglas DC-3 ZK-AWP which is also being prepared for service. The DC-3 will be offering scenic flights around the North Island over the summer.

28 November 2019

Being prepared for service...

Thanks to Richard Currie for this picture of Pilatus PC12 ZK-PCB being prepared for service with Sounds Air at Omaka today, 28 November 2019. Certainly one to watch out for over the summer. PLB is Sounds Air's sixth PC12.

26 November 2019

Shire Service Still to Take Off

Flights from Auckland to Matamata for Hobbiton fans are expected to bring "vibrancy" and "life" to a tired airfield. Fly My Sky, a Qualmark Gold endorsed, New Zealand-owned airline based at Auckland Airport, recently announced the introduction of flights and tours to the Hobbiton Movie Set, New Zealand's third largest tourism destination. The scheduled flights and tours will operate return journeys twice daily, seven days a week. The service will operate between Auckland Airport and Matamata (Waharoa) Aerodrome using Fly My Sky's twin-engine Britten Norman Islander aircraft, capable of transporting up to 9 passengers and accompanying luggage. Fly My Sky Director, Keith McKenzie said the company has been working with Hobbiton for months and is very excited to be the first to provide a flight service for Hobbiton tourists. "Often travellers in Auckland would like to go to places like the Hobbiton Movie Set, but don't have the time. This service will allow Hobbiton fans to visit the destination without the added hours on the motorway," McKenzie said. "It will also give an add experience to complement the Hobbiton Movie Set experience with a specular view over the country, which is nothing like anywhere in this world." The flight company will be using a pre-existing site at the Waharoa Aerodrome and shuttle services will take the travellers to the Hobbiton Movie Set site.​ While flights were meant to begin on November 18,  Fly My Sky Director, Keith McKenzie, said no bookings have been made yet. "We've had a delay in being able to advertise these flights due to strict rulings on the 'Hobbiton' brand and putting procedures in place, which has slowed down the process. At this stage we are busy doing large amounts of marketing with wholesalers and retailers with a great amount of interest being shown. "We expect future bookings to be very popular, but like any new business it will take some time to gain significant traction and become an established product. "We are looking forward to establishing a regular service to Matamata and the Hobbiton movie set during the summer season and a slightly reduced service during the winter." Hobbiton has worked with many coach and helicopter providers out of Auckland but this is the first providing transfers via plane. "It's great to have more transport options available for visitors looking to visit us here at Hobbiton Movie Set. We're very supportive of this new tour experience and look forward to hosting their guests using the service," Hobbiton general manager of sales and marketing Shayne Forrest said. "The tour experience once the visitors arrive at Hobbiton Movie Set will be consistent with our other tours. Like all other Auckland providers, they will be transferring guests to our location on Buckland road where they will join one of our tours of the Movie Set." Local Matamata aerodrome users are also excited about the possible tourism opportunities to come out of the Hobbiton flights. "They [My Sky] didn't consult with us but we support any activity that will bring life to the airfield and benefit Waharoa and Matamata," Matamata Aero Club president Anna Doerr said. "We know there has been a bit of a discussion about the flights, with the aerodrome being a recreational airfield, but we have no problem with the service." Sky Venture pilot Peter Ryan, who regularly flys in and out of Waharoa Aerodrome, said it's a smart move for the Matamata township and hopes it's a catalyse of more to come. "We've had no consultation with the users to my knowledge, but they're just going to be bring people into Matamata to Hobbiton, which commercially is a good thing," Ryan said. "They won't interfere with the flying people here because it will just be an aeroplane arriving and later on it will be departing. "It's a good commercial decision going on. Hobbiton people pay a lot of rates and bring a lot of money into the town so I would encourage that. Aligning with the Provincial Growth Fund to expand on the use of the Waharoa Aerodrome, Ryan said he would also like to see the old aerodrome campsite to open again. The campgrounds closed in 2017 after an investigation into allegations against the campground's cleaner. "Ten to 15 years ago it was bringing in $23,000 a year, with Hobbiton growing like it is it would be bring in $40,000, so we won't have to worry about landing fees for visitors and instead make it welcoming for all visitors.

NAC getting airborne again

Being repainted in NAC colours is Air Chathams' Douglas DC-3 ZK-AWP... One presumes it is because it will be 80 years since the start of TEAL next year... Air New Zealand tends to take this as it "birthday"

ZK-AWP was last repainted in NAC colours in 2000.

25 November 2019

Jim Jamieson RIP

I received sad news this evening that Jim Jamieson has passed away in Oxford... A long time resident of Hokitika Jim was a keen aviation enthusiast and historian with a particular interests in aircraft modelling and West Coast aviation history. For many years he serviced the Air Nelson flights at Hokitika and was often at the Hokitika Airport at night to switch on the runway lights for med evac flights. He was one of the influences on me developing my passion for aviation.

May he rest in peace.

But are they going to restart operations?

Originair summer flights between New Plymouth and Nelson have been temporarily grounded. The airline will resume direct services between New Plymouth and Nelson when New Plymouth's muilt-million dollar new airport terminal is opened early next year. Originair's flights to New Plymouth have been affected by Jetstar's plan to stop its services to regional New Zealand at the end of November, managing director Robert Inglis said. "Their handling company, Swissport, has carried out check-in and tarmac services for both Jetstar and Originair. This Swissport service will also be terminating at the end of this month when Jetstar services cease. "[We] have initially engaged staff at Palmerston North and will do likewise at New Plymouth and Napier in the future. At New Plymouth we plan to coincide this step with the opening of the new terminal early next year." Passengers on affected flights have already been rebooked on to alterative flights at no additional cost. "Originair has enjoyed providing a direct link to Nelson for New Plymouth travellers and look forward to doing so in the future from the new terminal." The airline launched a direct flight between Nelson and New Plymouth in 2017.

24 November 2019


I caught three helicopters at Rotorua on 15 November 2019...

Beck Helicopter's Bell UH-1B ZK-HHA

Volcanic Air's Eurocopter AS 350 B2 ZK-IVA

...and Advanced Flight's Bell 429 ZK-IXW

I had caught this machine on 18 June 2019 from my backyard while it was checked the HT lines...

23 November 2019

Corporates in Hamilton

I have managed to catch a couple of corporates in Hamilton recently...

Gulfstream 450 N8899 was in Hamilton on 19 November... it is seen here departing for Christchurch

Up from Nelson on 11 November 2019 was Beechcraft B300 King Air  ZK-VME

22 November 2019

The issues our smaller regional airports face

I found this article interesting...

The decision to close a grass runway at Hood Aerodrome, following a double-fatal mid-air plane crash, has been retrospectively endorsed by Masterton councillors. The runway was closed by the council chief executive on November 13 following an independent review of safety at Hood Aerodrome. Skydive Wellington pilot Joshua Christensen and Wairarapa Aero Club member Craig McBride died after their aircrafts crashed mid-air near the aerodrome on the morning of June 16. Both were Masterton locals. The Civil Aviation Authority [CAA], police, coroner and Transport Accident Investigations Commission [TAIC] are investigating and the council called in Mike Groome, who has long been associated with Taupo Airport, to review the operation of the aerodrome - a separate exercise to crash investigations. Groome said the aerodrome was a wonderful piece of paradise and a nice country airfield and should remain that way. His report found it was well run but made recommendations to improve operations, all of which were accepted by both the council's Audit and Risk Committee and full Council on Wednesday. He spoke in detail about the issues of joining queues in the air and of taxiing and landing when there were multiple runways, likening it to roundabouts and roads in the air. He also spoke about the difficulties of running parachute operations at small aerodromes where there was no air traffic control.The discussion was all general and about identified risks, not in reference to the crash. He noted the aerodrome was non-certified. He said it was an expensive process to move to certification, but it would be needed if either Air NZ or Air Chathams ever operated planes with more than 30 passengers in the future. A certified airport had a chief executive, an operations manager, and a safety assurance manager, and the chief executive was the holder of the operating certificate. Hood currently has a part-time manager. Groome suggested moving toward having a Safety Management System and the Audit and Risk Committee and Council voted to accept a recommendation to do this while noting it was not required for a non-certified aerodrome. The closure of the small grass airstrip eliminates the risk of a non-standard arrival or departure. Groome also suggested the aerodrome upgrade its weather information system which would allow messages to be broadcast, including messages notifying when parachuting operations were occurring. Planes should not overfly aerodromes when parachuting operations are happening as sky divers could be coming in to land. The closed runway is one of three parallel runways at Hood. It is the only one of the three with a clockwise landing circuit, the other two run counter-clockwise. More safety meetings and binding memorandum with users are also recommended. Plus, it is recommended to amend published aerodrome procedures with respect to taxiways.

19 November 2019

Auckland's Air Taxi

Photographed at Whitianga on 15 November 2019 was Air Auckland's Piper Navajo ZK-JGA. It looks its been there for a few days. The company continues to operate an air taxi service from Ardmore to both Whitianga and Great Barrier Island.

Add caption

Meanwhile Cessna T206H VH-YDE has been registered ZK-DZH for Air Auckland so that will be one to watch out for over summer. Photos : Air Auckland FB page

18 November 2019

LINK off the air waves - UPDATED

Another little bit of history disappears today with the cessation of the Air Nelson Air Operating Certificate.

As from the 19th of November 2019 the Air Nelson Bombardier Q300 aircraft are operating under the Air NZ Air Operating Certificate. 

Also planned from on the 18th of November was the LINK callsign used by the Air Nelson fleet ceasing and commencing on the 19th the Bombardiers would use “NEW ZEALAND 8xxx” and be filing ATC plans as ANZ8xxx.

However it seems there were issues with this as in the comment below which I have pasted here...

An e-mail from Air NZ to Airways:

We had previously agreed that regional aircraft would adopt the callsign “New Zealand” and utilise the full 4 digit flight number for voice comms with us filing ATC plans accordingly. This would ensure rule compliance.

A subsequent risk workshop with some Airways staff has highlighted concerns with this approach and as we have not had sufficient time to completely understand the risks and available controls to ensure that situational awareness is not reduced and callsign confusion is not increased. As such I have requested an exemption form part 91.249 which will allow for a solution to be developed which provides a Low Risk solution.

I have every belief that this exemption will be granted and the current Status Quo will remain in place beyond 18 Nov when the Q300 fleet is integrated with the Air New Zealand AOC and operates as an Air New Zealand aircraft.

This will mean that we will continue to file RLK and use “Link”.

We are endeavouring to finalise a long term solution utilising alpha/numeric flight numbers which will see the use of ANZ and “New Zealand” deployed with the move of the ATR72 fleet on 10 December but digital limitations may further delay this. Once a solution is determined we will be looking for formal acceptance from Airways and Civil Aviation Authority.

Check out this post that recounts the change from MOTAIR to AIRLINK and LINK callsigns...

17 November 2019

Sixth Pilatus

Sounds Air have added a sixth Pilatus PC12 to its fleet. ZK-PLB (c/n 725) arrived in New Zealand on the 12th of March 2019 as VH-YWO. Sounds Air recently announced the airline would withdraw its Naper-Blenheim service and the aircraft would be used elsewhere, but CEO Andrew Crawford was unable to confirm where. So it looks like there will be something to look forward to in 2020!

Pilatus PC12 VH-YWO flew from Wellington to Omaka as Sounds Air Oscar on 12 March 2019.
Photo taken at Omaka on 19 March 2019.

2019 arrivals

Thanks to Peter Lewis who caught these two aircraft at Ardmore on 9 November 2019. Both were placed on the aircraft register this year

Embraer EMB-820C ZK-DSY was placed on the register in August and is apparently bound for Vanuatu

Hawkes Bay based Cessna T206H ZK-NVC was placed on the register in May