29 December 2020

2020 - The NZ domestic airline scene in review

2020 has been one out of the bag...

On New Years day I made a prediction of what I thought might happen on the domestic airline scene...
You can read that here... 

And then there was Covid... 

Here are the highlights of what actually did happen this year...

3 January 2020

 Sounds Air operated its final Blenheim-Napier-Blenheim service with ZK-PLB operating flights S8 714 from Blenheim to Napier and the return flight S8 715. 

Pilatus PC12 ZK-PLB operating the final Sounds Air flight into Napier on 3 January 2020

21 January 2020

Airwork commenced a four times a week air freight service from Auckland to Sydney on behalf of FedEx.

Airwork's Boeing 737-400 ZK-TLM about to depart as Airwork 1 at Auckland on 29 January 2020

9 February 2020

Air New Zealand operated its final Aerospatiale-Alenia ATR 72-212A (500 series) flight when ZK-MCY operated flight NZ5383 from Wellington to Christchurch.

ZK-MCY at Auckland on 13 April 2013 

14 February 2020

Originair reintroduced flights between Nelson and Wellington. Initially five flights a week were offered.

20 March 2020

Keith and Robyn McKenzie sold Commercial Helicopters Ltd, that operates as Fly My Sky, to Dawn and Scott Young 

25 March 2020

With the country moved to Level 4 Lockdown most domestic air services ceased. Air New Zealand, Air Chathams, Barrier Air, Fly My Sky, Air Napier and Island Air offered minimal essential services. Air Napier ceased its dedicated passenger flights between Napier and Gisborne leaving just the freight flights operating this route and Fly My Sky dropped its Auckland-Matamata (Hobbiton) flights. Air New Zealand never resumed its Hamilton-Palmerston North-Wellington service

Air Napier's Piper Navajo ZK-NPR at Gisborne on 11 February 2020. The plague of Covid and Orange Cones. It still operates the dedicated scheduled freight flight but no longer the passenger flights.

Fly My Sky BN Islander ZK-EVO arriving at Matamata on 9 January 2020

15 May 2020

In an attempt to stimulate the Kaikoura economy Air Kaikoura introduced twice weekly flights between Kaikoura and Wellington. The first flight was flown by Austen Lee in Gippsland Airvan ZK-EHS. Flights operate on Fridays and Sundays.

One of the inaugural Air Kaikoura flights on 15 May 2020 at Kaikoura. Photo : Air Kaikoura Facebook page

11 September 2020

For the first time in its history Barrier Air had all their fleet in the same livery after the repaint of the company's first Cessna 208 Grand Caravan, ZK-SDB.

Looking sharp! With the return of "Bravo" the Barrier Air fleet at Auckland, with from left to right ZK-SDB, ZK-SDD and ZK-SDC. 

15 September 2020

Fly My Sky introduced flights between Great Barrier Island and North Shore. The first flight were operated by BN Islander ZK-SFK. The aircraft flew from Great Barrier to North Shore empty and returned with two passengers. The service has subsequently built up quite nicely.

Not the inaugural flight, but BN Islander ZK-SFK at North Shore on a scheduled service to Great Barrier Island at Claris on 2 October 2020

4 October 2020

A second BAe Jetstream, BAe Jetstream 32 ZK-JSK, enters service with Originair.

ZK-JSK at Nelson on 4 October 2020 about to depart on its first revenue flight to Wellington...

15 October 2020

Air Chathams commenced ATR 72 operations to the Chatham Islands. ZK-MCO flew flight 3C 591 from Auckland to the Chathams. The first flight out was 3C 512 to Wellington on 16 October 2020. The flights were operated under the command of Matthew Emeny and Paul Cattermole. This event marks the beginning of the end for the Convairs though the airline is still evaluating options.

ZK-MCO on the gate for final boarding at Auckland of the first ATR 72 flight to the Chatham Islands on 15 October 2020 

19 October 2020

Originair introduced flights between Palmerston North and Hamilton. The first services OGN 419 from Palmerston North to Hamilton and the return service OGN 426, were operated by BAe Jetstream 32 ZK-JSK under the command of Captain Murray Vincent and First Officer Josh Hutchison. 

Originair's BAe Jetstream 32 ZK-JSK arrives at Hamilton inaugurating its services to the Waikato.

2 November 2020

Sounds Air introduced flights between Wanaka and Christchurch. The first flights, S8 710, from Wanaka to Christchurch morning and the return service S8 711 were flown in Pilatus PC12 ZK-PLV with Na’ama Gueta as the Pilot in Command and Phil Brewer the co-pilot.

Ready for the airline's first scheduled service to Christchurch, Sounds Air's Pilatus PC12 ZK-PLV at Wanaka on 2 November 2020 

3 November 2020

Airwork introduced Boeing 737-400 ZK-FXL into service with it operating PARCELAIR 475 from Auckland to Christchurch and the return flight 476 in the early hours of the morning of the 4th of November.

13 November 2020

Air New Zealand introduced ATR 72-600 ZK-MZE into service.

21 December 2020

Air Chathams operated its first Saab flight to the Chatham Islands. Saab 340 ZK-CIY flew out to the Chathams from Auckland as CHATHAMS 391 under the command of Craig Emeny and Adrian Whitehead being the first of type to visit the Chathams. After picking up 3 tonne of crayfish the Saab thn flew to Wellington as CHATHAMS 312. 

Saab 340 ZK-CIY at the Chathams on 21 December 2020

25 December 2020

A Christmas Blessing

Christmas is a time of Love

a time of new birth and new beginnings

May your Christmas be surrounded by love

the people you love

and the people who love you

for love is the greatest present of all

After struggles of this year 

may your family and friends be a blessing to you

and may you be a blessing to them

And surrounded by love and blessing 

may new gifts come to birth in you and your family




21 December 2020

Considering Further Inter-Regional Services


Two bits of news in the Stuff series on regional airlines in New Zealand...

What aircraft do you fly, and how many do you have?

Originair operates British Aerospace Jetstream aircraft. We are currently operating two Jetstreams and are planning to add two more of the type.

What are your future plans?

Further inter-regional services are being considered.

  • So I presume that ECI and ECJ are the two... or am I being too optimistic? 
  • Now, if you were Originair what inter-regional routes would you think? It doesn't sound like they want to take on Air NZ.

Source : https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/news/123772144/come-fly-with-me-a-look-at-new-zealands-smaller-airlines-originair

Crayfish Special


Air Chathams operated its first Saab flight to the Chatham Islands today. Saab 340 ZK-CIY flew out to the Chathams from Auckland as CHATHAMS 391 under the command of Craig Emeny and Adrian Whitehead being the first of type to visit the Chathams. After picking up 3 tonne of crayfish the Saab thn flew to Wellington as CHATHAMS 312. It will have been an interesting exercise for Air Chathams and it will be interesting to see what unfolds as result of this flight.

Saab 340 ZK-CIY at the Chathams on 21 December 2020

19 December 2020

Terrific Tauranga Time

At Tauranga earlier this week, (15 December) Runway 07 was in use... I prefer 25 but I was pretty happy with my results...

Sunair's Cessna 172 ZK-DPN was in the circuit

Vans RV-7A ZK-ECE did a long roll out enabling me to get a decent shot

My first photo of Cessna 206 ZK-EDI in 27 years

Cessna 172 ZK-FII doing Island Air's Motiti run

Photo of the day - Hughes 500D ZK-HUT

Eurocopter EC 120B ZK-IFG with a very hard to read rego 

MBB BO105 ZK-IKO being towed back to its hangar

Eurocopter EC 130 ZK-IPO - hard to photograph these black machines

ELA Aviacion ELA-08-R-115 ZK-LMO already too high for a decent shot

Vans RV-8 ZK-MRM returning to its hangar

Bombardier Q300 ZK-NEQ tucking its gear away

My first sighting of De Havilland Thruxton Jackaroo ZK-PHZ

Tecnam P96 Golf ZK-PPG presumably returning home

as was Robin DR400/500 ZK-TZA

And finally Cessna 172 ZK-ZDM on the taxi for departure


14 December 2020

From Seneca to Something Bigger

The latest installment of the Stuff series on our regional airlines features Golden Bay Air. As in all of them there is not buch new, but every now and then there is an interesting little snippet. This is snippet from this article

Before Covid we had planned to replace our twin-engine aircraft with a larger 10 seat one, to meet increasing demand. We are now waiting to see what happens this summer before we take that step.

Golden Bay Air's Piper Seneca ZK-ZAG awaiting take-off clearance at Wellington on 27 October 2014.

The airline said about its fleet, These fit the smaller airfields we fly into at Karamea and Tākaka. The Seneca is also a fully instrument-equipped aircraft, that allows us to fly reliably between Wellington and Tākaka in all weather. We installed a GNSS instrument approach to Tākaka for this purpose.

So what aircraft would you replace the Seneca with???

My profile on Golden Bay Air and its services is here... http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2011/06/sun-is-shining-on-golden-bay-air.html

13 December 2020

In the Shadow of the Ruahine and Tararua Ranges - East Coast Air

In mid-August 1980 the Wairarapa Times-Age reported that the Napier Aero Club was applying to the ir Services Licensing Authority to operate a daily Napier-Waipukurau-Dannevirke-Masterton service. It was envisaged that a morning flight would depart Napier at 8.40am to arrive at Masterton 10.20am. In the afternoon the service would depart Masterton at 1.30pm to arrive at Napier 3.20pm. 

The Daily Telegraph subsequently reported that, despite an objection from the Wairarapa and Ruahine Aero Club, a licence was duly granted on the 28th of August 1980 with the provision of a minimum of 2 return flights per week. The Club was given the right to overfly Waipukurau and Dannevirke if there was no traffic offering. The report said the service would "start in about a month" and would enable connections with Air Central and Air New Zealand schedules. The service would use the Club's Cessna 206 Super Skywagon, ZK-DVI (c/n 206-0163). The Club's manager, Mr Ross McKelvie, told the Daily Telegraph, no additional staff would be needed. 

Air Napier's Cessna 206 ZK-DVI which operated the East Coast Air service at Napier on 21 January 1981.

From the timetable below the service commenced on the 26th of September 1980. It operated under the name of East Coast Air, which was the commercial division of the Napier Aero Club. The service, which operated four days a week from Tuesday through Friday, was particularly timed to connect with Air New Zealand's Friendship service to and from Auckland but as show connections were also available with other Air New Zealand and Air Central services. 

On the 16th of October 1980 the Wairarapa Times-Age reported a slow start to East Coast Air service, with only two flights having touched down at Masterton with no passengers being uplifted from Masterton at that point. There was a better response for the service from Waipukurau and Dannevirke. Nonetheless, there was still as expectation that the service would build up to seven flights per week.  Freight was the main income source. The aircraft broke even with about 50% freight capacity filled or 2-3 passengers. The service was using the Cessna 206 or a Cessna 172. At that time Aero Club was using Cessna 172M Skyhawk II ZK-DNN (c/n 17262107) which was registered to Ross McKelvie, the Aero Club Manager, and Cessna 172N Skyhawk II ZK-EJY which had been registered to Hawkes Bay Finance Ltd the week before the service started. The report also said the Napier Aero Club also operated a Cessna 150 and Cherokee but these were kept for operations closer to Napier. The two aircraft were Cessna A150L Aerobat ZK-DPK (c/n A1500484) and Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee C ZK-CUQ (c/n 28-26521), the CHerokee again being registered to Ross McKelvie.

Wearing Napier Aero Club titles, Cessna 172 ZK-DNN at Napier on 21 January 1981

However, the service failed to meet expectations and petered out. 

My thanks to Bruce Gavin and his archives for preparing this post. 

08 December 2020

Interesting Purchase

An interesting change of ownership has appeared on the NZ civil aircraft register... Christian Aviation's Piper Navajo ZK-CAM and Piper Chieftain ZK-CAL have been registered to Dairy Tech International Ltd  which is owned by Greg Misson. 

He previously owned Hamilton-based VIP Air Charter... http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2012/06/vip-air-charter-and-its-te-kaahu.html

One wonders if anything will develop from the purchase???

Christian Aviation's Piper Navajo ZK-CAM at Whakatane on 19 May 1988

Visiting Tauranga on 26 February 2015 was Christian Aviation's Piper Chieftain ZK-CAL


Originair Ops

 Operating Originair's flights between Palmerston North and Hamilton yesterday (7 December 2020) was British Aerospace Jetstream 31 ZK-JSH

06 December 2020

Yet Another 750XL


Yet another Pacific Aerospace 750XL getting ready for export. ZK-EPH was photographed at Hamilton on 2 December 2020. It is heading for Cenderawasih Air in Papua.

05 December 2020

New East Cape Flyer


There's no Koru club, no duty free, no departure gates and no bustling terminal. When you board an Air Ruatoria flight you’ll likely meet your pilot at his caravan, share a cup of tea, then walk over parched grass to reach your little plane. The nation’s newest commercial air company is the realisation of a childhood dream for Mahanga Maru. The 56-year-old Wellington-based consultant was raised in the small East Coast town. It was a bustling place in Maru’s childhood, before the 1980s downturn took its toll, and he would spend days roaming the countryside and looking skyward at the plethora of small aircraft coming and going from the town's aerodrome. “It’s a bit of a risk starting an aviation business in the Covid environment. Some of my mates think I'm mad. The idea is to test the market and see how it goes,” he said. Maru got his pilot’s licence at 23 and got a job at Air Gisborne doing charter work, instructing students, fish spotting and flying air ambulance flights, before heading away to university. The idea of starting a local scenic flight business in Ruatoria was first hatched in the 1970s, when three farmers applied unsuccessfully for government approval. “I’d always thought it was an idea worth trying. I always kept my licence up to date and I got to the point of thinking ‘well I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time so why don’t I give it a crack’,” he said. “It’s a remote place that not many people go to. That can be a strength. I’d like to get a bit of activity back in the place. It’s a pretty poor area,” Maru said. He will lease a four-seat Cessa 172 which will be based at the Ruatoria airstrip for the summer. Maru will be living in a caravan on the airstrip too. The airstrip was created in the 1960s by a farmer with a home-made grader. The clubroom, still extant, was an old house that was dragged across the Waiapu River by a bulldozer. ”The aero club in the 60s and 70s had about 80-odd members. They owned three aircraft. It was a very active club, bigger than the Rotorua club at the time. I watched the planes fly past and fell in love with it,” Maru said. The airstrip was upgraded earlier this year after receiving $100,000 through the Provincial Growth Fund. “I’ll be living the dream. The advantage I have is that I grew up there, so I have the knowledge and can tell people about our maunga, our river and our people. It’ll be a cultural experience,” he said. “Mostly it's about giving people access to a part of the world they wouldn’t have access to before”. Air Ruatoria will offer a range of scenic flights, including sights like Mt Hikurangi, Whangara (of Whale Rider fame) and the Rocket Lab launch pad near Mahia. The flights will cost between $199 and $299 per person.

Source : https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/destinations/nz/gisborne/300172147/air-ruatoria-come-fly-with-me-east-coast-style

For a TV clip see https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/ruatoria-man-decides-start-his-own-airline-v1

For more information see : https://www.air-rua.com/

Two operators have offered a regular service to Ruatoria...

Marshall's Air Transport - http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2013/04/rural-east-coast-flyer-marshalls-air.html

Aotearoa Airlines - http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2012/02/gisbornes-aotearoa-airlines.html

04 December 2020

Great News from Originair

Great news from Originair on their Facebook page...

Stage one of our new schedule beginning mid February is available for purchase now.  We will be adding a further Jetstream 32 to our fleet which will enable us to increase this schedule. This will include double daily flights between Nelson and Palmerston North as well as Hamilton and Palmerston North. Check out our new direct flight Hamilton to Nelson on a Friday evening for you to enjoy a weekend in our sunny region before returning on the direct flight Nelson to Hamilton on a Sunday afternoon.

In each of the timetables below there is the current timetable, the interim timetable from 14 February 2021 and the timetable from 28 March 2021

Prior to this coming out I had sat down and worked out my own schedule...  Rationale... 

  • Business traffic is where the passengers are... so the first flights need to be out early... I think the 8.00am out of Hamilton and 9.10am out of Nelson are too late in my opinion. Meetings start at 9.00am!
  • Hamilton fog is an issue. Most mornings, by 9.50am it is clear.
  • If they wanted to do more a midday HLZ-NSN return might work and a NSN-TRG return. Kiwi Regional was getting at least half full flights. 

If I was Originair this is what I would do...

However, a big improvement. Well done Originair