23 July 2021

Not Quite A Quarter of a Century on the Chathams Run


Today marks the last day of Air Chathams' scheduled passenger operations with Convair 580 aircraft. Today Convair 580 ZK-CIB, Air Chathams' first Convair, flew its final scheduled passenger service, 3C 512, from the Chathams Islands to Wellington and the return 3C 521 to the Chatham Islands. The Convair flew the last return service from the Chathams to Auckland on Thursday, the 22nd of July 2021 and the last return service from the Chathams to Christchurch on Tuesday, the 20th of July 2021.

These flights also marked the end of Convair 580s operating scheduled passenger services in the world.

ZK-CIB on her final day of scheduled passenger operations at Wellington on 23 July 2021. Photos : Wellington International Airport 

A final Auckland-Wellington-Chathams and return charter flight is planned as the final passenger operation on the weekend of the 13th and 15th of August.

Air Chatham’s first General Dynamics Allison Convair 440/580, ZK-CIB (c/n 327A), began services to the Chathams almost 25 years ago on the 29th of July 1996. ZK-CIB flew from Wellington to the Chathams with 13 passengers and 3 tonnes of freight and returned the next day with 5 tonnes of freight and 7 passengers. 

ZK-CIB was configured as a combi meaning it could easily change from an all freight configuration, with a total capacity of 6.3 tonnes, to an all passenger configuration with a capacity for 39 passengers though the normal mixed passenger/freight configuration was with a capacity for 19 passengers and 4 tonnes or freight.  

Despite its age the Convair with its Allison turboprops gave the aircraft an impressive cruising speed of 285 knots at a normal operating altitude of 22,000 feet. It also offered the advantage of being able to carry a commercial payload to the Chathams of 5.1 tonnes eastbound and 6.1 back to New Zealand with all the refuelling being done on the mainland. 

ZK-CIB has quite a history as detailed below;

ZK-CIB/3     General Dynamics Allison Convair 440/580                      c/n 327A

N8420H       00/00/1953      Convair, San Diego, California

                                             Built as Convair 340-38 with c/n 96

                     30/07/1953      Union Producing Co, Shreveport, Louisiana

                                             Badly damaged by fire at Shreveport. Louisiana

                                             Registration cancelled

N8444H       00/00/1956      General Dynamics Corporation

                     00/00/1956      Rebuilt as Convair 440-42 with c/n 327A

                     00/06/1956      Union Producing Corporation, Shreveport, Louisiana

                     12/03/1966      North Central Airlines Inc, Minneapolis, Minnesota

                     00/05/1969      Converted to Convair 580

                     01/05/1969      North Central Airlines Inc, Minneapolis, Minnesota

                     01/07/1979      Republic Airlines Inc, Minneapolis, Minnesota

                     14/12/1983      Jay-Dee Aircraft Supply Inc, Santa Monica, California

                     00/12/1983      Coastal Air...leased

                     00/05/1988      Registration cancelled

TG-MYM     00/00/1988      Aeroquetal, Guatemala City, Guatemala

                     00/00/1989      Withdrawn from use - stored Tucson, Arizona

                     00/00/1992      Registration cancelled

N8444H       01/04/1992      Jay-Dee Aircraft Supply Inc, Valencia, California

                     00/05/1992      Delivered to Kelowna, Edmonton, Alberta

                     00/05/1994      Registration cancelled

C-FCIB        26/07/1995      Kelowna Flightcraft Air Charter Ltd, Edmonton, Alberta

                     07/06/1996      Registration cancelled

ZK-CIB        10/06/1996      Air Transport (Chatham Islands) Ltd, Chatham Islands

                     29/07/1996      Entered service flying Wellington-Chatham Islands

                     02/08/1996      Air Chathams Ltd, Chatham Islands


Air Chatham's flagship, Convair 580 ZK-CIB at Chatham on 20 April 2014

ZK-CIB's front office

ZK-CIB's cabin waiting for its passengers... Notice the absence of overhead lockers... this means the rear bulkhead can easily be moved up and down the cabin as passenger and freight demands dictate. In the front right sealed plastic tubs of fish to be flown to the mainland.

On the flight down to the Chathams on 15 April 2014 the Convair was in a full 39-seat passenger configuration - note the seats on the left hand side of the cargo door. The large door is ideal for this combi operation.

Repainted and with new script, Air Chathams' Convair 580 ZK-CIB departs Wellington for the Chatham Islands on 26 July 2017

Today, however, is not the end of ZK-CIB's service. Dan Burt, Air Chathams' Head of Marketing  tells me, CIB will be doing freight flights for a few weeks here and there though July, August and September.

More on Air Chathams and their Convair operations can be found here :


  1. Had kinda hoped they would do a bit of celebration flight. A flight that fans of the old Convair can book and enjoy one last flight on the excellent aircraft. Missed opportunity on Air Chathams behalf for sure. I guarantee such a flight would be full

    1. Their Facebook page suggests they have something special in mind for her before she retires in September...wait and see what that means. Remember She is still the standby aircraft for the Chathams until September too