08 July 2021

Originair - 7 questions for the 7th month

Last month I wrote to New Zealand's regional airlines asking them seven questions about their airline as they offer air services to our regional centres. I have tried to make the questions generic and not commercially sensitive but at the same time offer a glimpse of our regional airlines and some of the challenges they have and how they rise above them. The first five questions are specific to each airline... the last two I'm asking all the airlines.

Next of blocks is Originair's managing director Robert Inglis...

Originair has certainly had some challenges since its inception in 2015, particularly before it got its own Air Operator's Certificate and then with Covid. Despite these setbacks the airline has not only survived, it has grown. What’s the secret?

Persistence and patience.

Originair is the only airline that offers a consistent, daily, inter-regional scheduled air service in New Zealand. You operated services to New Plymouth and Napier but these haven’t resumed since lockdown. Does the inter-regional market still exist in New Zealand and how do you build it?

Yes the inter-regional market still exists however, not on short sectors without water barriers where the car is the real competitor.  Originair ceased its Napier and New Plymouth services when Jetstar withdrew its operations from these ports.  Originair and Jetstar used Swissport as our handling agent at these ports and they ceased providing services with Jetstars withdrawal of operations. We haven’t forgotten these ports for the future.

Air New Zealand’s withdrawal from its inter-regional service between Hamilton and Palmerston North has enabled Originair to pick up that route. I’ve questioned the timetable with relatively late departures for the morning flights. What factors have to be taken into account in setting the timetable?

Originair’s morning departure from Hamilton is at 8.20am to Palmerston North and returns to Hamilton in the evenings from Palmerston North at 5.10pm allowing passengers a full day in Palmerston North. We believe these are times that meet both business and leisure traveller’s needs.  Our off peak times on this route are almost the same as offered in the past by Air NZ. I had a little more dialogue with Robert on this route and he added the following which I found quite interesting... When we initially planned the schedule times, we were going to have our crew stay at the airport hotel however this became a Covid hotel requiring our crews to travel from to city morning and evening . This used up crew duty time and we really don’t want to double crew the aircraft each day due to cost.  We did also survey a range of HLZ travellers who said they wanted a later flight as they found the Air NZ flight to early . Hard to please everyone! You mentioned the pax numbers Air NZ was carrying on the route and we were able to gleam the price of the average fare which I’m sure generated additional passengers travelling however they were in my opinion not covering the cost of production on the sector which I guess this is why NZ kicked for touch.

Nelson is one of the more geographically isolated centres in New Zealand which makes it ideal for air services. Yet Nelson has seen more airlines come and go than any other centre, particularly with services to Wellington. What is the reason for this?

Nelson – Wellington is a very expensive sector to operate and is dominated by a taxpayer supported airline.  I guess the simple answer to the question is operators expenditure exceeded revenue on the route.

Originair now has three Jetstreams on the line. To the best of my knowledge there are no 18-seat pressurised turboprop aircraft in production. With this in mind what do you think the future will hold for airlines such as Originair?

The demand on routes with water barriers will continue and Originair is following closely the progress on the development of bio-fuels to allow our Jetstreams to continue in a carbon sensitive manner until the next generation of aircraft are available.

The last two are the same I am asking all the airlines… Covid presented the New Zealand regional airlines with many challenges. What has your airline learnt and how is it stronger from these challenging times?

The benefits of being small and nimble have assisted during Covid and there’s no point in wasting a crisis.

In a sentence or two how would you describe your airline?

The airline provides a choice for travellers on inter-regional routes, has aircraft suited to the demand on these sectors and an experienced team that enjoys working together to provide another airline choice and friendly customer service.

Thanks for your answers Robert and thank you for your contribution to the regional airline scene in New Zealand. Your involvement with Motueka Air Services, Air Nelson, Origin Pacific and Originair have helped transform regional air travel in New Zealand. I look forward to flying again on Originair sometime in the future.

My history of Originair can be found here : http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2015/08/originair-new-cook-strait-carrier.html


  1. I've got a really good idea for Originair, It's got 5 Jetstream Airplanes now (1 J31 and 4 J32s).
    The J31 could operate from Nelson to Wellington while the J32s could operate from Nelson to Palmerston North and Hamilton as well as Palmerston North to Hamilton. Then Originair could take on Nelson to Tauranga with a J32.
    Originair could also acquire a Beech King Air 360ER and a Beech 1900C and take over Wellington to Palmerston North and reinstate Nelson to Napier.
    If it all goes well Originair could acquire a second Beech King Air 360ER and a second Beech 1900C and take on Palmerston North to Tauranga and Nelson to Dunedin.

  2. A small correction, Originair have 3 Jetstreams in service, JSH, JSJ and JSK. While I like you enthusiasm Scott I wouldn’t want to be your bank manager if you were CEO. I think NSN-TRG has potential as does NSN-HLZ. WLG-PMR is too short a route and too easily done by car or train. What traffic used to use it was almost totally connecting to other NZ services. Like AKL-HLZ it will never see an air service again. PMR-TRG might have some traffic but not enough I suspect. NSN-DUD was tried by Kiwi Regional and I think only averaged 10. A Beech King Air 360ER would be too expensive for too few seats and why get an 18-seat Beech 1900 when you have an 18-seat Jetstream? No, I think Originair's considered slowly and steadily is the best bet... Note how they haven't forgotten about Napier and New Plymouth. That's exciting news

    1. Agreed Steve, I didn't realize the PM-WN traffic was mostly connecting. I thought it had been daily business workers but I guess that sector would be dominated by road and rail. I also agree on the 1900 vs JS argument. Better to get ECI up and running if they need another aircraft