26 June 2020

Less than Enthusiastic Airport Company

The Sounds Air proposal for a Wanaka-Christchurch air service has already been delayed by more than two years. Managing director Andrew Crawford confirmed yesterday an "ongoing discussion" with the Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) — which runs Wanaka Airport for the Queenstown Lakes District Council — began two and a-half years ago. Mr Crawford said he had no idea why the QAC was unwilling to give approval. "It’s bewildering." Sounds Air wanted to add Wanaka to its network with 15 return flights to Christchurch per week, and could be operating within six weeks of being given approval. It would use a nine-seat turbo-prop Pilatus PC12 aircraft. QAC chief executive Colin Keel was not available for comment yesterday, but a statement issued by general manager corporate and community affairs Sara Irvine said the QAC "would not develop Wanaka Airport to introduce scheduled services" until the council had completed plans and assessments. That commitment was set out in the QAC’s statement of intent. Mr Crawford said his proposal did not require development at Wanaka Airport, as there were already various options available to handle passengers. Asked if he considered the proposal required a major decision on QAC’s part, Mr Crawford said, "No, it does not." Mr Crawford said he had been asked by the QAC to survey the Upper Clutha community. The survey is being promoted by the Wanaka Stakeholders Group (WSG) which supports turbo-prop services but rejects the QAC’s proposed $400 million redevelopment of Wanaka Airport for jet services. Chairman Michael Ross said yesterday the WSG was "incredibly concerned" at the delays over the Sounds Air proposal. "Here we have a situation where the QAC and the QLDC are screaming out for additional visitors ... but QAC appears to be blocking an initiative to recommence a turbo-prop service to Wanaka. The QAC statement said it looked forward to the survey results and discussing the proposal to introduce scheduled services at Wanaka Airport "in due course".

24 June 2020

Sounds Air looking at Wanaka

Sounds Air is currently considering a scheduled service between Christchurch and Wanaka, that could start almost immediately! The company is looking at operating up to fifteen return flights a week with flights every day (up to 3 per day). Flying time will be approximately 45 minutes, and fares will range from $169 to $279 each way. 

The Christchurch to Wanaka sector will be operated in their Pilatus PC12 9 seater, pressurised aircraft.  These planes cruise at up to 30 thousand feet with nine passengers who can bring 20kg of luggage each.

The airline says service can be up and running within six weeks. No additional infrastructure is required at Wanaka Airport - Sounds Air will use the existing runway, terminal building and local staff. They have aircraft on standby ready to run this service.

Sounds Air are keen to hear from as many people as possible regarding the value of this to people in the Wanaka and Christchurch regions and the broader domestic community for business or leisure travel. The survey is 100% anonymous and will only take 5 minutes to complete.

To get started please click here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/W5ZVPL5

21 June 2020

Waiheke Island Airvan Operations

Appearing on the Auckland Seaplanes Facebook page is the news that an 8 seater Airvan will be based at Waiheke Airport for the coming weeks. Michael the pilot has more than 500 hours experience flying whale watching flights in Kaikoura and thought that he had seen one of the 40+ Bryde's Whales, which are resident in the Hauraki Gulf on his flight to the island! The Airvan will be used on scenic and transfer flights.

What looks to be Wings Over Whales Airvan ZK-FSR. So I won't be seeing that at Kaikoura later in the week

20 June 2020

Sounds Air boosting flights

Sounds Air's Facebook page has announced the airline has added extra flights between Westport & Wellington and Christchurch & Blenheim to their JULY schedule!


New flights include:
• Westport: TUE AM, THU AM & PM, SUN PM
• Christchurch: THU AM & PM, SUN PM


Total capacity is now:
• Christchurch: MON/WED/THU/FRI AM & PM and SUN PM

19 June 2020

Government Funding Assistance Package for Airlines

Sounds Air will receive government funding under a new package to keep essential transport networks alive. The top of the south airline is the first business to get support under the Essential Aviation Transport Connectivity package, in which $30 million has been allocated from the $600 million aviation relief package. There were concerns the airline would not get a cut of the aviation package, and a petition to 'Save Sounds Air' collected more than 43,000 signatures. Sounds Air chief executive Andrew Crawford said the funding was a "vote of confidence" in the airline and connectivity for the regions.The airline had been seeking Government support since New Zealand went into lockdown, but had so far only received the wage subsidy. The amount of the funding, which would not be disclosed, would contribute to costs and overheads, but was by no means the "be all and end all", Crawford said. "We fly to regions where Air New Zealand doesn't go. This is a critical lifeline to the community." Crawford said the Ministry of Transport undertook a "thorough process", and delved deep into the business and the regions to see what was required. The airline employs 65 people, including 26 pilots. It has 10 aircraft serving destinations in New Zealand that otherwise did not have an air link, such as Blenheim to Christchurch, Blenheim to Paraparaumu, Wellington to Westport and Wellington to Taupo. The move comes as the national carrier also announced today it is bracing for a $120 million loss this financial year. Sounds Air flew 115,000 customers last year. Transport Minister Phil Twyford said maintaining regional connectivity was vital for the wellbeing of New Zealanders and crucial for economic recovery. "This is for services which provide essential transport connectivity and would not continue without Government support. Transport Minister Phil Twyford said maintaining regional connectivity was vital. "Smaller airlines such as Sounds Air play an important role keeping our remote communities connected and I’m pleased to announce they are the first to receive support from this package," Twyford said. Funding from the package would support flights to the top of the south and West Coast, as well as from Wellington to Taupo. Under the terms of the support agreement, Sounds Air would fly 118 flights per week, providing links between Wellington-Blenheim, Wellington-Nelson, Blenheim-Christchurch, Wellington-Westport, and Wellington-Taupo.

17 June 2020

DAK over PPQ

Thanks to Neil who sent me this photo of the Ministry of Transport's Douglas DC-3 ZK-AXS over Paraparaumu... Now, for all the aviation history buffs, when do you think this photo was taken? It certainly is an early scheme and the airfield looks rather primitive. 

16 June 2020

Golden Bay Air sets start up date

Golden Bay Air have announced with the move to COVID-19 Level 1 their scheduled flights and shuttles will resume on Monday 29th of June. From the 29th Golden Bay Air will operate 5 flights a week increasing to 11 flights a week over summer. The Wellington flights will operate on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. Flights are also being operated between Takaka, Karamea and Nelson.

GB Weekly 19 June 2020

After the resumption of Golden Bay Air's services only Jetstar will remain grounded. It intends recommencing operations on the 1st of July 2020. 

15 June 2020

Remember the days...

Remember the days...

When Christchurch had a viewing deck...
When Christchurch had regular Boeing 747 flights...
When Christchurch saw Coast Air flying into it.

Thanks to Alistair for this great photo!

Coast Air's DHC Twin Otter ZK-OTR being refuelled at Christchurch probably in late 1986. In the background Air NZ Boeing 747 ZK-NZX and Qantas Boeing 747 VH-EBH 

14 June 2020

The National Carrier's Hamilton International Service

Air New Zealand took over Freedom Air's international services to Hamilton on the 31st of March 2009. This was the first time the national carrier had flown international services through Hamilton and these trans-Tasman services were only to last for 13 months. On the day of the take over Air New Zealand was operating eight weekly flights to and from Hamilton, three flights per week to Sydney, two flights per week to Coolangatta, and three flights per week to Brisbane. 

In June 2009 Air New Zealand realised it had to respond to the continued high cost of fuel and changes in demand. This included fare increases and timetable changes. Air New Zealand's Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe said, “As a small, nimble operator we have the benefit of being able to quickly adjust schedules to maintain a cost effective operation that ensures capacity meets current demand in the markets we serve. We are not immune to changes in demand and sky-rocketing fuel costs.” To that end Air New Zealand made a number of tactical network changes which included reducing the number of flights between Hamilton and Sydney will reduce from three to two per week between August and November 2009.

On the 6th of October 2009 Air New Zealand announced it would suspend services between Hamilton and Sydney and the Gold Coast during the traditionally lower demand period from the 29th of March to the 24th of October 2009. In addition to this the flights from Hamilton to Brisbane were to be reduced from three flights a week to two flights a week due to weak demand and an oversupply of trans-Tasman capacity from Auckland. Air New Zealand's General Manager for the Tasman and Pacific, Glen Sowry, said, “This decision is part of Air New Zealand’s ongoing review of its network to ensure we operate a sustainable business through the current global economic downturn which is seeing airlines suffer, and in many cases fail, the world over. We certainly regret having to suspend the three times per week service to Sydney and twice a week service to the Gold Coast. However, with poor load factors, equally poor yield and high fuel costs, we cannot afford to fly routes that lose money in the current economic environment. “Quite simply, Waikato residents are not travelling like they used to, or are choosing to travel through Auckland Airport. The Hamilton – Sydney route for example has operated less than half full over the past six months. That’s the equivalent of operating more than 60 empty A320 flights on the Sydney route alone. “Efforts to stimulate demand with significantly lower average fares compared to the rest of the Tasman network have not had the required affect. “In addition, the glut in trans-Tasman capacity from Auckland is cannibalising the Hamilton services as many of those travelling to Australia from the Waikato appear to be flying from Auckland.”

The announcement came as a major blow for the Hamilton International Airport which had recently upgraded its airport terminal. The Waikato Times revealed at the weekend international passengers numbers were down 15.8 percent (a reduction from 104,000 to 87,000) for the year to June 30.  

However, even before the Coolangata and Sydney flights were suspended more news came. On the 30th of January 2009 Air New Zealand announced it was axing all its trans-Tasman flights out of Hamilton from the 25th of April 2009. Airline general manager for Tasman Pacific, Glen Sowry said Air New Zealand "regretted having to suspend the service" but weak demand meant it was no longer viable. An "oversupply" of trans-Tasman flights from Auckland was having a direct impact on the Hamilton services. This "oversupply" that Sowry mentioned will get even worse for the airline from next Monday, when Emirates Airline's latest plane will start flying into Auckland. Because it is much larger than Emirates' existing planes an extra 1200 seats a week will be added to the hotly-contested Tasman route. It has allowed it to offer Sydney return including taxes for less than $300. Sowry said the airline's Hamilton-Brisbane service was "suffering from poor load factors and equally poor yield. "Loadings on our Hamilton-Brisbane service have averaged 58 per cent over the past three months. In that time, we have flown the equivalent of 32 empty A320 aircraft between Hamilton and Brisbane. That is clearly unsustainable, and in the current environment we cannot afford to fly routes that make substantial losses with no forecast improvement." The yield earned by the airline on the flights was also poor, with 94 per cent of fares sold being low earning sale or "smart saver" fares. "Recent improvements to the road between Hamilton and Auckland also appear to be encouraging Waikato residents to drive to Auckland to take their Tasman flights. This has been compounded by a massive increase in competition on Tasman services out of Auckland with additional low cost carrier capacity and new wide-body capacity, creating an incredibly competitive market and great deals for the travelling public."

One local official called for a ban on Air New Zealand, accusing Air New Zealand of "manipulating a decline" in the Waikato market by cutting flights down to two a week from a peak of 15, making travel from Hamilton less convenient, and offering cheaper flights from Auckland. "If the airline had any commitment whatsoever to the region it would have offered those same low fares in the regional market." The Air New Zealand website offers Brisbane airfares out of Auckland at $200 lower per return flight, a cut of 35 per cent.

Air New Zealand responded saying that the average fare out of Hamilton had been lower than for any other Tasman port. "Ninety four per cent of seats sold out of Hamilton were sale fares or lowest level smart saver. The number of cheap seats was considerably higher than cheap seats out of any other transtasman port."

Air New Zealand Airbus 320 ZK-OJM at Hamilton in 2011... The photo is 'borrowed' from Awesome in NZ's Flickr page, see https://www.flickr.com/photos/49222841@N06/. If you know who Awesome in NZ is and how to contact him can you let me know.

The following week the Waikato Times reported that Air New Zealand had cancelled 11 of its remaining flights between Sydney and Hamilton. While Air New Zealand still claims to operate two return services a week between Hamilton and Sydney, Waikato Times inquiries found the scheduled Air New Zealand return service between Hamilton and Sydney will not operate on February 9 and 23 and March 23 and 27. And Sydney to Hamilton sector flights have been cancelled on February 13 and 20, and March 13. That is a total of 11 flights. An airline spokeswoman said the cancellations were due either to "unplanned capacity reduction" or amendments to the Tasman schedule. She said the decision to amend the schedule was determined in part by low bookings from Hamilton a less than 10 per cent booked load factor (fewer than 15 customers) on the cancelled services.

The final Air New Zealand international services to Hamilton were operated on the 30th of April 2012

13 June 2020

Air Chathams' Freighter

Arriving into Auckland on 7 June 2020 was Convair 580 ZK-KFL operating a freight flight from Christchurch ... note to Air Chathams - get the painted nose cone back on

12 June 2020

Barrier Air on Sunday

Off to the Barrier on Barrier Air's 1.00pm flight on 7 June 2020 was Cessna 208B Grand Caravan ZK-SDC

Cessna 208B Grand Caravan ZK-SDD was operating Barrier Air's 1.30pm flight to the Barrier

While Cessna 208B Grand Caravan ZK-SDB was operating Barrier Air's 2.00pm flight 

Photo bomb

I also caught SDB arriving from the Barrier when the sun was out.

11 June 2020

Fly My Sky on Sunday

Fly My Sky were operating two BN Islanders to and from Great Barrier Island on Sunday 7 June 2020... ZK-EVO arriving from the Barrier about 1.00pm

and then departing at 2.00pm...

Also joining EVO for the 2.00pm flight was ZK-PIZ

10 June 2020

Air Ambulances at Auckland

The Life Flight BAe Jetstream 32 ZK-LFW at Auckland on 6 June 2020

The Starship Air Ambulance Beechcraft B300 King Air ZK-SSH at Auckland on 6 June 2020

09 June 2020

International Boeings

Emirates' Boeing 777-300 A6-EQC about to depart Auckland for Melbourne on 6 June 2020 


Boeing 777-300 C-FNNU arriving into Auckland from Sydney on 6 June 2020
Normally an international airliner Boeing 787-9 ZK-NZG was departing Auckland on 6 June 2020 for Christchurch on a domestic service

08 June 2020

Sounds Air's Level 1 Plans

From the Sounds Air Facebook page...

Exciting news! As New Zealand moves to Alert Level One, we can confirm that our team is in the process of opening our flights up to full seating capacity! We will still be operating our reduced schedule during June and July, but with social distancing no longer required onboard our aircraft, we can now offer more seats on those flights 🎉

Important information:
• ID/Proof of contact is still required to assist with accurate contact tracing.
• Face masks remain optional. You are welcome to bring your own, and we will have masks available if you request.
• We will continue thorough cleaning of our aircraft between flights.

Stay tuned for more updates regarding:
• Availability of 10 Trip Tickets for purchase
• Re-introduction of Sounds Good & Sounds Best fare options.
• Additional flight capacity where needed (we'll be monitoring demand).
• Our upcoming promotion!

To book, visit our website www.soundsair.com or give our team a call on 0800 505 005. We can't wait to see you on board!

Jetstar at 60%

Jetstar will fly 75 return flights a week across New Zealand when it resumes domestic services on July 1. That is a return to about 60 per cent of its normal domestic schedule. Some customers who had bookings on a range of since-cancelled flights have complained that new services offered are more expensive. The Commerce Commission said it had received five complaints since Friday evening, which were being assessed. But Jetstar said customers who had bookings on the 40 per cent of flights that were not running had been contacted and offered options. Group chief executive Gareth Evans said it would monitor demand and more domestic flights would probably be added in coming months. July travel restarts with a sale on some fares booked before June 10: Auckland to Wellington flights and Auckland to Christchurch flights will start at $21. Auckland to Dunedin will be from $45 and Auckland to Queenstown from $48. "With a move to level 1 restrictions across New Zealand, Jetstar is well and truly ready to take off," he said. “We’re looking forward to bringing family and friends together and helping to boost local tourism by offering great low fares. Customers will notice a number of wellbeing initiatives as our flights resume, which have been developed based on best practice medical advice and customer feedback, such as masks and sanitising wipes. This is in addition to the measures we already have in place such as extra cleaning and HEPA filters onboard which remove 99.9 per cent of all particles, including viruses. To give customers further peace of mind, we’ve introduced more flexibility into bookings, enabling customers to book with greater confidence.” There will be 27 return flights a week between Auckland and Wellington, 24 between Auckland and Christchurch, 14 between between Auckland and Queenstown and seven between Christchurch and Wellington.

Second Airvan for Air Kaikoura

From the Air Kaikoura Facebook page...

Air Kaikoura's excited to announce that we have newly acquired our second GA-8 Airvan, ZK-ORCa! We will very soon have the ability to carry up to 14 passengers on our flights. 

The two Air Kaikoura Airvans, ZK-ORC (left) and ZK-EHS at Kaikoura.

In addition to its whale watching activities Air Kaikoura is currently offering twice weekly return services from Kaikoura to Wellington on Friday and Sunday afternoons.

Air Chathams at Auckland on Saturday

Arriving into Auckland from the Chatham Islands was Air Chathams' Convair 580 ZK-CIB. Photo taken on 6 June 2020.  

About to depart Auckland for Whakatāne on 6 June 2020 was Air Chathams' Fairchild Metroliner III ZK-ZK-CID
Being towed back to the hangar at Auckland on 6 June 2020 was Saab 340 ZK-KRA