10 September 2023

Dunedin's Skyways Flite Services

On the 17th of August 1981 Andy Padgett's Rexair Flying School air transport licence was taken over by Otago pilots John Gray and Graeme Tikey trading as Skyways Flite Services Ltd. The Rexair licence authorised air charter and air taxi services from Dunedin airport to any licensed aerodrome or authorised landing place in New Zealand with two Cessna 172s and a Cessna 206 or Cessna 207. Coming into the fleet was Rexair's three Cessna 172s, ZK-DXL which was sold the following month, ZK-EHO and ZK-ELT and Cessna 206 ZK-DXH. A further Cessna 172 and the Cessna 206 were soon leased out. 

On the 31st of August 1981 two new Piper Tomahawks, ZK-EQV and ZK-EQX, were registered to Skyways. the new operator discovered, as reported in NZ Wings, that while the Civil Aviation Division mapped out a clear course through the paper requirements for applying for a new license, very little advice was available on transferring an air service certificate. The ins and outs of the matter took two and a half months of non-revenue earning activity to resolve the issue. The licence was finally transferred to Skyways Flite Services on the 10th of November 1981. 

Meanwhile, in October 1981 NZ Wings had reported that while Skyways successfully acquired Rexair's air transport licence, it failed to get the rights for the scheduled service to Gore and Invercargill. The new company will provide air charter, freight, joy rides, aerial photography and is also looking forward to the possibility of establishing regional air services

Skyways Flite Services' Piper PA38 Tomahawks, ZK-EQV and ZK-EQX at Dunedin on 8 November 1981. Photos : I Coates

A licence change was granted to Skyways on the 7th of December 1981 allowing the company to add a Partenavia P68B to its fleet. This enabled Partenavia ZK-LAL to be leased from RCS International Ltd and also allowed the company to offer IFR charter services. Unfortunately RCS International went into receivership and while in receivership the Partenavia's certificate of airworthiness expired. The receiver was not prepared to incur the expenditure of obtaining a new certificate and so Skyways returned to the Air Services Licensing Authority seeking to delete the Partenavia from its licence and replace it with a Cessna 402 which company had already operated under a temporary licence. Approval was granted to do this on the 5th of April 1982 and on the 24th of May 1982 Cessna 402 ZK-DSB was registered to Skyways. 

Skyways' Cessna 402 ZK-DSB at Christchurch on 23 June 1982

An article in NZ Wings in April 1982 reported that, With Dunedin being the head office for a number of NZ companies, Skyways sees a requirement for both crewing and maintaining corporate aircraft based on Dunedin. Air New Zealand's frequency places a time penalty on businessmen flying north and, as Skyways sees it, there is an untapped market in providing an early morning flight to Wellington in time to connect with an Air NZ flight to Auckland. Two provincial centres to the north, Oamaru and Timaru, are blind spots on Air NZ's route system. In short, the Otago and South Canterbury hinterlands are a largely untapped market in a number of general aviation sectors. An important part of Skyway's future is invested in a Cessna 402B ZK-DSB. Until recently operated by Stewart Island Air Services, the light twin is to be used for executive air transport and a freight operation. 

The same article also discussed the flight training side of Skyway's business. "More than happy" was the response of Graeme Tikey to a query about the performance of the two Piper Tomahawks out front... The Tomahawks, equipped with both VOR and ADF, were delivered new last August by Airwork (NZ) Ltd's aircraft sales manager Colin White and now have over 700 hours logged apiece - not bad for the first six months. The advent of Skyways Flite Services in Otago skies appears to have had a definite spin off for local pilot's pockets. An initial rate of $45.00 per solo hour in the Tomahawks was shortly matched by a decrease in local aero club rates. A competitive advertising campaign has also raised local awareness of the role of general aviation and the opportunity to share in it. Flying training has probably never been better for both.

Despite its high ambitions the company Skyways didn't soar and on the 22nd of September 1982 the company was placed into receivership. In October 1982 tenders were invited for the purchase of the assets of Skyways Flite Services Limited. The company has operated from Dunedin Airport, Momona, as an air charter firm, flight training school etc. Assets to be tendered include, two Cessna "Skyhawk." one Cessna "Stationair" and one Piper "Tomahawk" aircraft, office building at airport, goodwill, sundry equipment and office furniture etc.

After Skyways' collapse Motor Holdings established a flying school at Dunedin's Momona airport using Cessna 152s and Cessna 172s under the direction of Dave McMillan, who was Motor Holdings Aviation Ltd's South Island Area Manager.

Aircraft used included

Cessna 172M Skyhawk II
ZK-DXL (c/n 17263546)

Cessna 172N Skyhawk II
ZK-EHO (c/n 17269668)
ZK-ELT (c/n 17271068)

Cessna U206F Stationair
ZK-DXH (c/n U20602996)

Cessna 402B Utiliner
ZK-DSB (c/n 402B0585)

Partenavia P68B 
ZK-LAL (c/n 70)

Piper PA-38-112 Tomahawk
ZK-EQV (c/n 38-80A0029)
ZK-EQX (c/n 38-80A0009)

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