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. 

No comments:

Post a Comment