30 November 2023

Summer Ramp Up


Summer is just around the corner and Barrier Air is ramping up for the busy holidays. Their North Shore to Great Barrier Island service operates during the winter months on a reduced schedule but as per the norm over the last few years is currently operating daily leading into twice daily services operating during December and thrice daily services in the busy January school holiday period.

In the same way Whitianga has ramped up with additional flights and twice daily flights most of the time. The grass runway at Whitianga continued to be a challenge in the wet winter months necessitated a reduced schedule but the service continues to be popular with Whitianga locals.

On the Auckland - Great Barrier service up to 18 flights a day will be operated.

For Barrier Air this is a time to make hay when the sun is shining with a much lesser demand during the rest of the year. And lets hope the sun will be shining in Auckland this summer.

29 November 2023

Another Change in Flight Pattern


This week another pattern has started with Merlin Labs' freight flights. Instead of flying a late afternoon /early evening Kerikeri-Auckland return service the operator has been running an early morning Kerikeri -Auckland service departing Kerikeri at about 5.00am and then returning from Auckland to Whangarei and then on to Kerikeri.

These flights have operated on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings this week, both flights being operated using Cessna 208B Super Cargomaster ZK-MLO.

For more on the Merlin Labs freight flights see - https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2023/10/merlin-labs-part-time-freight-airline.html 

Meanwhile the company's Cessna 208B Grand Caravan ZK-MLN was in Hamilton on Saturday...

Merlin Labs' Cessna 208B Grand Caravan ZK-MLN at Hamilton on 25 November 2023

28 November 2023

Another Boeing 737-800

Due to cross the Tasman today is yet another Boeing 737-800 freighter for Texel Air. Registered as VP-CJA the Boeing is due to fly from Brisbane into Hamilton at around 2 o'clock this afternoon. Previously the aircraft operated as VH-VOQ with Pacific Blue, named "Peta Pan", and Virgin Australia, named "Margaret River" before being converted to a freighter. 


25 November 2023

More on the Whakatāne Saab Service


Air Chathams’ new SAAB 340 touched down on its inaugural scheduled flight into Whakatāne. The larger, more spacious and comfortable aircraft is welcomed by passengers of the daily scheduled flights between Whakatāne and Auckland. It replaces the Fairchild Metroliner III, which seated only 18 passengers and was relatively cramped. Some passenger-carrying test flights of the new 34-seater had been made during August to test its suitability for the route, with one passenger commenting that it was much more comfortable, especially for taller travellers. “There is a lot more leg room and it’s great to have overhead storage and even be able to stand up.” The new aircraft also offers inflight service and toilet facilities. Air Chathams chief operating officer Duane Emeny says introducing the new aircraft to the Whakatāne route was a key milestone for the airline and a significant upgrade to the Eastern Bay air service. The airline has maintained the Whakatāne to Auckland route for the past eight years, since Air New Zealand discontinued the service, citing commercial reasons. “I’d like to think that our family business has proven that is not the case and look forward continued growth on the route with the larger plane.” This date also marks the end of an era for regional air travel in New Zealand, with a farewell to the Fairchild Metroliner, which has served New Zealand’s smaller regional centres for decades. The Whakatāne to Auckland flight service with Air Chathams was the last-standing route for the iconic aeroplane. It leaves with a touch of nostalgia for those who’ve travelled for decades on the “Pencil Plane” - just one of the many nicknames assigned to the Texas-build craft. “For me, it will be sad to say farewell our faithful Metroliner. An aircraft that played a key part in the development of New Zealand’s aviation industry and has served the Eastern Bay well through some challenging years for the region.” In partnership with local government and business entities, Air Chathams’ shared vision is to further develop the service with the larger aircraft into the future. Mayor Victor Luca and deputy mayor Lesley Immink, along with several of the district council’s senior managers attended the Monday event and Dr Luca cut a ribbon to allow the first passengers to enter the airport terminal. Dr Luca has previously spoken about the importance of the air service to Whakatane, pointing out that amongst other organisations it is an important resource for our hospital, facilitating visits from doctors and other specialists. “The 'Flying Pencil' becomes part of our district history,” Dr Luca says. “It served us well, but we now welcome the increased capacity and comfort of the SAAB 340 onto the Whakatāne route. "The timing is great, heading into the holiday season and I hope our families, friends, and friends we are yet to meet, consider this new flight option for shorter breaks without needing to drive.” 

Source : https://www.sunlive.co.nz/news/331603-whakat--ne-flyers-delighted-with-more-room.html

24 November 2023

Summer Special Flights


Island Aviation started off 10 years ago as Auckland Seaplanes using a DHC Beaver, then developed Waiheke Wings with a Cessna 172 and now operates as Island Aviation with two Britten Norman Islanders and the Cessna 172. It has slowly evolved into the niche that Flight Hauraki and Air Auckland occupied as the Hauraki Gulf's air taxi. This is emphasised by an interesting little post on Island Aviation's Facebook page last month...

I asked Island Aviation's CEO Chris Sattler about this and he wrote, The flights are on demand Friday evening down and Sunday afternoon back, and we wanted to try and connect the service onwards to Waiheke, since we expect some Coromandel locals to be interested  in a direct connection. Fullers will not be running a ferry service from Auckland via Waiheke to Coromandel town this summer, so getting from Coromandel/Whitianga/Pauanui to Waiheke is a very long detour.

At the moment we have more demand for Pauanui, rather than for Whitianga, especially around Christmas. But last year a lot of demand was very last minute..

23 November 2023

ZK-TXA Post Script


On the 9th of November 2023 ZK-TXA flew to Brisbane as TEXEL 44 and at that time was led to  understand that it will be operating freighter services in Australia.

And that is exactly what happened... On the 13th it operated Brisbane-Sydney as TEXEL 201 with a scheduled departure of 11.00pm. It then departed Sydney for Melboure with a scheduled departure of 1.45am as TEXEL 202 before returning direct to Brisbane as TEXEL 203 with a departure time of 4.00am. These flights operate Monday to Friday.

22 November 2023

Catching up with FXM

Airwork's Boeing 737-4Y0F arrived into Auckland on delivery to Airwork as F-GIXU on the 8th of April 2022. It entered service on the 2nd of June 2022 flying AIRWORK 1 from Auckland to Sydney and the return service AIRWORK 2 in the early hours of 3 June 2022.

On Friday I finally managed to photograph it...

Boeing 737- ZK-FXM at Auckland on 17 November 2023

21 November 2023

Saabs start into Whakatāne

Air Chathams commenced Saab 340 services to Whakatāne yesterday with Saab 340A ZK-CIY doing the first flights, 3C 824 to Whakatāne and the return service 3C 829 to Auckland under the command of Captain Duane Emeny and co-pilot Anthony Borich. The Saab then did the overnight service to the Kāpiti Coast. The reverse service will be flown tomorrow morning. The new schedule sees 12 flights a week operate between the two centres.  


20 November 2023

40 years of Scheduled Metroliner Passenger Services Ends

Without fuss or fanfare Air Chathams' ended their scheduled passenger Metroliner services in New Zealand with Air Chathams' Fairchild Metro 23 ZK-POF flying their final scheduled passenger flights, 3C 821 from Whakatāne to Auckland and the return 3C 820 and the final 3C 827 again from Whakatāne to Auckland under the command of Alan Martin and Cameron Lindsay

In an email to 3rd Level New Zealand Air Chathams' Chief Operating Officer wrote, Yes a sad day in many respects as our last scheduled Metroliner service. Albeit, I think you haven’t seen the last of the pencil on Air Chathams routes with increased demand for services leading up to Christmas and a need to cover Saabs in maintenance. ZK-CID is being kept very busy out on the Chathams flying seafood out and general goods in to the island.

Air Chathams announces the arrival of flight 3C 827 into Auckland from Whakatāne, the last scheduled Metroliner service in New Zealand operating by Fairchild Metro 23 ZK-POF

The annoying fuel tanker that stopped me getting some side on shots of POF... It pulled up just as the Metro was establishing on long finals

However, today was more than the end of just Air Chathams' scheduled passenger Metroliner flights... Today marks the end of 40 years of scheduled Metroliner passenger operations in New Zealand.

Metroliners were first introduced to New Zealand in 1983 by Air Albatross. The company’s first Swearingen Metroliner, ZK-SWA, was a 1978 model purchased for “around the $1 million mark” from Skywest Airlines, of Perth. It arrived in Wellington in late November 1983 in preparation for the amendment to the Air Services Licensing Act, an Act which changed regional air travel in New Zealand.

Air Albatross began Metroliner operations on the 15th of December 1983 with Swearingen Metroliner II ZK-SWA and by Christmas 1983 the Metroliner was making four daily flights into Nelson and three into Blenheim. For the next 40 years Metroliners were to fly our skies operated by a number of airlines connecting regional New Zealand to the main centres. The airlines and the Metroliners they operated are listed below with a selection of photos...

Metroliners operated by Air Albatross;
ZK-SWA - Swearingen SA226TC Metroliner IIA (c/n TC-256)
ZK-SWB - Swearingen SA226AT Merlin IV (c/n AT-033)
ZK-SWC - Swearingen SA226TC Metroliner IIA (c/n TC-270)
ZK-SWD - Swearingen SA226TC Metroliner II (c/n TC-287)

Air Albatross' first Swearingen Metroliner II, ZK-SWA, at Nelson on 15 April 1984

Air Albatross began Metroliner operations on the 15th of December 1983 and by Christmas 1983 the Metroliner was making four daily flights into Nelson and three into Blenheim with its speed and rate of climb impressing locals in both centres.

Swearingen Metroliner II ZK-SWD in Air Albatross' spectacular blue scheme at Christchurch in November 1985

Metroliners operated by Air Chathams;
ZK-CIC - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metroliner III (c/n AC-623)
ZK-CID - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-692B) - ex ZK-NSS
ZK-POF - Fairchild Swearingen SA227CC Metro 23 (c/n CC-844B)

Air Chathams Metroliner ZK-CIC fuelled and loaded starts at Christchurch for the long haul to the Chathams on 11 November 1996.

ZK-CIC in Air Chatham's Whakatāne colour scheme, at Whakatāne on 21 April 2017

Air Chathams' Metro 23 ZK-POF at Whakatāne on 7 September 2019

Metroliner operated by Air National;
ZK-CIC - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metroliner III (c/n AC-623)

Metroliner ZK-CIC at New Plymouth on 8 October 1999 being operated for Origin Pacific with an Air National callsign.

Metroliners operated by Air Nelson;
ZK-NSI - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-765)
ZK-NSJ - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-767)
ZK-NSQ - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-706)
ZK-NSS - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-692B) - later to ZK-CID
ZK-NST - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-530)
ZK-NSU - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-705)
ZK-NSV - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-513)
ZK-NSW - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-508)
ZK-NSX - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-542)
ZK-NSY - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-711)
ZK-NSZ - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-712)

Air Nelson's second Fairchild Metroliner III, ZK-NSV at Hokitika on 31 May 1989

Displaying Trans World Express colours, Fairchild Metroliner ZK-NSU, with Air Nelson titles, at Hokitika on 14 May 1990.

Fairchild Metroliner III ZK-NSS in Air Metro colours at Nelson on 9 September 1990

Shown in the first Air New Zealand Link colour scheme is Air Nelson's Fairchild Metroliner III ZK-NSV at Hokitika on 3 December 1997.

Only one of Air Nelson's Saabs or Metroliners featured the final Link scheme, namely Fairchild Metroliner III ZK-NSY seen here arriving at Hokitika from Christchurch on the 5th of November 2001

Metroliners operated by Airwork on passenger and air ambulance work;
ZK-LFT - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-582) 
ZK-NSS - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-692B) - later to ZK-CID
ZK-PAA - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-582) - later ZK-LFT
ZK-POB - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-606B)

Airwork operated Fairchild Metroliner III ZK-PAA with Starship Hospital Childflight titles at Hokitika on 29 December 1997. The Metroliner was later reregistered ZK-LFT (see below)

Life Flight NZ air ambulance Fairchild Metroliner III, ZK-LFT at Auckland on 28 July 2011

Sylink was Airwork's passenger charter operator. Fairchild Metroliner III ZK-POB at Auckland on 15 June 2010


Metroliner operated by Chatham Airlink;
ZK-NSS - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-692B) - later to ZK-CID

Fairchild Metroliner ZK-NSS that flew the Chatham Airlink service at Auckland on 29 November 1996.

Metroliners operated by Eagle Air;
ZK-NSQ - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-706)
ZK-NSW - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-508)
ZK-NSX - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-542)
ZK-OAA - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-546)
ZK-PBA - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-547)
ZK-RCA - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-637)
ZK-SDA - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-641)

Eagle's first Fairchild Metroliner ZK-NSQ was leased from Air Nelson. It was photographed at Nelson on 17 April 1991

One of Eagle's first Fairchild Metroliners... ZK-PBA at Gisborne on 22 January 1992

Eagle Air's Fairchild Metroliner ZK-PBA at Tauranga on 17 September 1998... the Air New Zealand titles and Pacific Wave are behind the passenger door

Metroliners operated by Airwork's NZ Post operation;
ZK-NSS - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-692B) - later to ZK-CID
ZK-POA - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-551B
ZK-POB - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-606B)
ZK-POE - Fairchild Swearingen SA227CC Metro 23 (c/n CC-843B)
ZK-POF - Fairchild Swearingen SA227CC Metro 23 (c/n CC-844B)

In NZ Post colours, Fairchild Metroliner III ZK-POB at Nelson on 25 June 1999

Metroliners operated by Origin Pacific Airways;
ZK-CIC - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metroliner III (c/n AC-623) - leased
ZK-JSJ - Fairchild Swearingen SA227DC Metro 23 (c/n DC-888B) - operated by Air Chathams
ZK-JSV - Fairchild Swearingen SA227DC Metro 23 (c/n DC-868B) - operated by Air Chathams
ZK-POA - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-551B) - operated by Airwork  
ZK-POB - Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metro III (c/n AC-606B) - operated by Airwork
ZK-POE - Fairchild Swearingen SA227CC Metro 23 (c/n CC-843B) - operated by Airwork
ZK-POF - Fairchild Swearingen SA227CC Metro 23 (c/n CC-844B) - operated by Airwork

Painted in full Origin Pacific colours, Air Chathams' ZK-CIC at Christchurch awaiting take off clearance on runway 29 while on an Origin Pacific freight flight on 16 October 2000.

Fairchild Metro 23 ZK-JSJ at Christchurch on 23 June 2001.

Metroliner operated by Pacifica Air;
ZK-MES - Swearingen SA226TC Metroliner II (c/n TC-231)

Pacifica Air's Swearingen Metroliner II, ZK-MES at Christchurch on 26 April 1987.

19 November 2023

History Updated - Ansett Airways @ CHT


I have recently updated my history of the Ansett Airways service to the Chatham Islands,,, It can be found here... http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2014/07/ansetts-service-to-chatham-islands.html