27 June 2024

Golden Hour at North Shore

On 23 June 2024 I made a quick trip to North Shore airport to catch Island Aviation's Britten Norman Islander ZK-SFK arrive with the afternoon flight from Great Barrier Island

I little earlier Nanchang CJ-6 ZK-FRU was in the circuit


24 June 2024

Jetstar Domestic and Trans-Tasman Expansion

Jetstar plans to significantly grow its New Zealand operations, unlocking more than 240,000 new low fares seats each year and boosting tourism on both sides of the Tasman.  The first stage of its expansion includes the launch of new flights between Christchurch and Cairns, and Auckland and the Sunshine Coast (Maroochydore), with tickets going on sale at 12pm NZST today at jetstar.com. The low-cost carrier has also announced it will increase capacity on key domestic routes, starting with Christchurch to Auckland and Auckland to Wellington. It’s also planning to further grow its NZ domestic operations in the next 12 months.  In addition to the new routes, Jetstar will adjust its Christchurch to Melbourne flight times to improve connectivity to its long-haul international network. This will provide better access to Jetstar’s flights between Melbourne and Asia, including Ho Chi Minh City, Phuket, Singapore and Bangkok, and enhance inbound tourism to the South Island. To support the growth in flying, Jetstar will base an additional aircraft in Christchurch from December, bringing its New Zealand fleet to eight Airbus A320 aircraft. It’s the first time Jetstar has expanded its fleet in New Zealand in more than 10 years. 
Improved reliability 

This major expansion comes as Jetstar continues to deliver strong reliability in New Zealand. Over the past six months, Jetstar’s cancellations have dropped to around one per cent or less and on average, more than 80 per cent of its flights have arrived on time so far this year. Jetstar Group CEO, Stephanie Tully said today’s announcement marks the biggest boost to Jetstar’s operations in New Zealand in more than a decade.  “This month we’re celebrating our 15th birthday in New Zealand, and as we mark this milestone, we’re really excited to be entering such a significant period of growth.  “Over the past 15 years, we’ve helped make travel more accessible for millions of New Zealanders and this expansion will help to unlock hundreds of thousands of low fares and more choice for our customers and provide a significant boost to tourism on both sides of the Tasman. “Having another aircraft based in Christchurch, as well as the launch of new flights and capacity, will help establish the city as a major gateway for Jetstar in New Zealand, providing more choice and great low fares for South Island residents. “We thank Christchurch Airport and the Queensland Government for their ongoing support of low fares travel.” 

Christchurch Airport CEO, Justin Watson said:  

“Most of that increase will bolster services and offer more travel options in and out of Christchurch Airport so this is a huge vote of confidence in our city. Christchurch is thriving, Jetstar’s decided to bring even more people to the party, and we couldn’t be happier to host them. “This is a smart decision by Jetstar. The city has some major new assets, including the Te Pae, our awesome new convention centre with Te Kaha stadium and Parakiore Recreation and Sport centre coming onstream which will drive further visitor growth. Jetstar is positioning itself well to capitalise on that expansion. “More seats across the Tasman offers better choice and a direct connection with Cairns opens up a seamless two-way link to the fantastic opportunities in the South Island and in Tropical North Queensland” 

Queensland Tourism Minister and State Member for Cairns Michael Healy said: 

“We’re excited to see yet another international service booked for Cairns with a three-year commitment by Jetstar for three weekly services from Christchurch to Cairns, starting in April 2025.  “Sunshine Coast Airport will also benefit from three weekly Jetstar services arriving from Auckland starting in December 2024.  “The flights will go some way to alleviating the pain of losing Bonza Airlines from the local market.  “These will be the 33rd and 34th routes secured through the $200 million Attracting Aviation Investment Fund.  “The Fund is estimated to deliver more than 2.26 million inbound international seats and up to $1.95 billion in overnight visitor spend per year, supporting 22,700 Queensland jobs.” 

The Auckland to Sunshine Coast (Maroochydore) service will operate thrice weekly from the 13th of  December 2024.  The Christchurch to Cairns service will operate twice weekly from the 1st of April 2025. 

Source : Jetstar Media Release

Sounds Air - Shortest Day Spotting @ WLG

On the taxi to the gate at Wellington on 21 June 2024 were Sounds Air's Cessna 208 Caravan ZK-PDM operating SDA 114 from Picton...

...Sounds Air's Cessna 208 Grand Caravan ZK-SAA operating SDA 328 from Nelson...

...and Sounds Air's Cessna 208 Grand Caravan ZK-SAY operating SDA 226 from Blenheim...


23 June 2024

Originair - Shortest Day Spotting @ WLG

Arriving into Wellington on 21 June 2024 was Originair's BAe Jetstream 32 ZK-JSJ operating OGN 517 from Nelson


22 June 2024

ZK-TXD in Service

UPDATED 28 June 2024

Entering service on the 21st of June 2024 was Texel Air's Boeing 737-800 freighter ZK-TXD flying from Brisbane to Melbourne as TFX 601 and then from Melbourne to Christchurch as TFX 602. This was flying a replacement engine for a Virgin Australia Boeing 737 that had ingested a bird on take off Queenstown earlier that week.

It started regular services on the evening of the 24th of June 2024 flying TFX21 from Brisbane to Sydney followed by TFX 22 to Melbourne and TFX23 back to Brisbane in the early morning of the 25th.

Texel Air's Boeing 737-800 freighter ZK-TXD in Team Global Express colours at Hamilton on 17 June 2024

FAB - Shortest Day Spotting @ WLG

Flights were pretty much full out of Wellington to Auckland on the 21st of June 2024, the shortest day so it meant I had no option of changing flights and had to do some spotting instead. Also great to meet and have a chat with blog-reader Steve while waiting to get a photo of Originair arriving on the gate.

First up on the spotting was Fiji Airways' Boeing 737 MAX 8 DQ-FAB looking Absolutely FABulous arriving and departing Wellington 

Arriving into WLG as FJ461

And on the departure back to Nadi as FJ460

21 June 2024

Withdrawn from the Register


Formally withdrawn from the New Zealand civil register this week, on the 18th of June 2024, was Air Chathams' Fairchild Metroliner III ZK-CIC. 

It had operated its final passenger flights on the 17th of October 2022 flying flight 3C 824 from Auckland to Auckland to Whakatane under the command of Alan Breen and Tom Fackney and then 3C 829 from Whakatane to Auckland under the command of Tom Fackney and Daryl Petit. The final freighter flights were operated on the 4th of November 2022 from Wellington to the Chatham Islands and the final freighter flights, 3C 221 from Wellington to the Chatham Islands and the return flight 3C 212 from the Chatham Islands to Wellington under the command of Darron Kyle and Gary Downs. Its final positioning flight was from Wellington to Auckland on the 24th of November 2022 as 3C 251 under the command of Nico Matsis and Nick Reid.

ZK-CIC's full history maybe found here : https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2023/04/zk-cic-retired.html



Interesting reporting from Tonga... I think the quoted Saab prices are somewhat unrealistic

Lulutai CEO Poasi Tei says the airline will make an announcement tomorrow (Friday, June 20) morning about the long-rumoured return of New Zealand-based Air Chatham to Tonga. Kaniva News has reliable information that Air Chatham is expected to arrive in  Tonga some time this week or next week and start operating the domestic services. We asked Tei for an update on the reported deal between Lulutai and Air Chatham, which we have previously reported. We asked him how long Chatham was expected to operate temporarily in Tonga. We also asked him how many aircraft Chatham would bring to Tonga. Responding to our questions this afternoon, Tei said: “We plan to issue a press release tomorrow following the completion of plans for considerations for this project”. We have information that Air Chatham and Lulutai has been negotiating for the New Zealand airline, which previously operated Tonga’s domestic air service, to take over Tonga’s domestic flights on a four-month  wet lease. A wet lease means a leasing arrangement whereby Chathams can provide a Saab 340 aircraft – the same type operated by Lulutai until it was damaged in December – with air crew and maintenance. Chathams could not be reached for comment. There was no announcement on its web site last night. Meanwhile, Lulutai is expected to buy another Saab 340. This was recently mentioned in Parliament, with the Opposition saying money for the purchase had been allocated in the 2024-2025 budget. There was no further information available to us on the new aircraft. It has been claimed that they can be bought for as little as US$1 million. The Saab is bigger than Lulutai’s recently purchased DeHavilland Canada Twin Otter, which the government bought for US$6 million. Asked about the difference between the prices and why the Twin Otter was more expensive, our source said it depended on the negotiations between the buyer, in this case the Tonga government and the seller. He said the government should have got a better deal and bought a  cheaper Twin Otter for about US$3 million.  

Source : https://www.kanivatonga.co.nz/2024/06/will-air-chathams-take-over-air-services-lulutai-ceo-promises-statement-tomorrow

20 June 2024

Glenorchy Air Fleet Changes

Glenorchy Air, a leading scenic flight company and a subsidiary of Stokes Aviation, has announced the acquisition of a second Daher Kodiak 100. This 10-seat aircraft will undergo preparations for operations in Oklahoma, USA, before being ferried via Hawaii, Kiribati, and Samoa to New Zealand. Once regulatory approval is obtained, it will enter commercial service.

The 2022 Daher Kodiak 100 Series III, manufactured in Sandpoint, Idaho, USA, will join Glenorchy Air's existing fleet, which along with their series II Kodiak, includes two Cessna Grand Caravan EX's and a GippsAero GA8 Airvan. The company's Cessna 206 HD is currently for sale and will be retired from the fleet after delivery.

Managing Director James Stokes commented, "The Kodiak's exceptional runway performance and overall efficiency align perfectly with our fleet requirements. This acquisition reinforces Glenorchy Air's commitment to becoming the first Queenstown operator to utilize sustainable fuels when available in New Zealand. We eagerly anticipate incorporating this aircraft into our operations in time for summer 2024."

As well as this Acquisition, the company’s Cessna Grand Caravan EX ZK-PPR will be sent to Napier in late August to be repainted in Glenorchy Air Livery. This will have the expanded fleet looking sharp for the busy tourist season ahead.

Glenorchy Air is a CAA Part 135 and 125-certificated airline based in Queenstown, NZ. It specializes in scenic flights to Milford Sound, Mt. Cook, and Stewart Island.

Glenorchy Air's first Daher Kodiak 100, ZK-KDK, at Queenstown

Source : Glenorchy Air Press Release

Cessna Jets at Ardmore

Brookby Quarries Cessna 510 Citation Mustang N2WG landing at Ardmore on 17 March 2024

Air Ops Jet's Cessna 560 Citation Ultra ZK-XGO departing Ardmore on 17 June 2024

18 June 2024

ZK-OKV enters service


Entering service with Air New Zealand yesterday, 17 June 2024, was Boeing 777-367ER ZK-OKV which flew NZ175 to Perth and the return NZ176 which arrived early this morning.

Boeing 777-300 ZK-OKV departing Auckland for Perth on its first Air New Zealand service, NZ175, on 17 June 2024. Photo : Andrew Aley

The latest Boeing 777-300 in the Air New Zealand fleet was delivered to Cathay Pacific as B-KQD on the 20th of February 2013 are remained in service with the Hong Kong based carrier (apart from a stand down time during Covid) until the 19th of November 2023. It had a brief spell on the San Marino civil aircraft register as T7-L288 arriving registered as such into Auckland from San Bernadino  on the 15th of May 2024. It was placed on the New Zealand register as ZK-OKV the following day.

I am very grateful for Andrew Aley sending me these pics of ZK-OKV. He also caught it returning to Auckland after a test flight on the 12th of June 2024 (below),

Boeing 777-300 ZK-OKV arriving back into Auckland after a test flight on 12 June 2024. Photos : Andrew Aley

17 June 2024

ZK-TXD off to Australia

UPDATED 21 June 2024

Crossing the Tasman today, the 17th of June 2024, is Texel Air's latest Boeing 737-800 freighter, ZK-TXD operating as TEXEL 99. This is the third of Texel's 737 freighters to wear Team Global Express colours joining ZK-TXB and ZK-TXC for the Australian contract.

The aircraft's history starts in 2007. Boeing 737-8FH(WLH) was delivered to UK airline XL Airways as G-XLAK in January 2007. Late that year it went to Turkey and saw service from December 2008 with AnadoluJet as TC-JHI and from January 2013 with Sun Express as TC-SAH. In June 2019 it went to Airzena Georgian Airways as 4L-TGC and then to Aircompany Armenia as EK-73792 in November 2021 and it was operated by them until May 2022. It received an Austrian registration OK-SBK with Alterna Capital Partners in June 2022 and was stored in Prague until July 2023 when it was purchased by Chisholm Enterprises it who registered it as N736CE and who flew it to Guangzhou for freighter conversion.

In the early hours of the 24th of May 2024 it departed Guangzhou for Hamilton flying via Port Moresby and Auckland, arriving in Hamilton about 7.30pm. It was registered to Texel Air Ltd, Auckland, as ZK-TXD on 5 June 2024. Texel Air will operated it to fly services for Team Global Express in Australia.

In Team Global Express colours, Texel Air's Boeing 737-800F ZK-TXD being towed across the airport from Hamilton Aero Maintenance to the terminal at Hamilton on 17 June 2024. The aircraft departed for Brisbane just after 2.30pm

ZK-TXD entered service in Australia on the 21st of June 2024 flying Brisbane to Melbourne as TFX601.

My profile of the development of Texel Air has been updated and can be found here

16 June 2024

Inchbonnie 90

Inchbonnie and New Zealand’s first licensed scheduled air service

Inchbonnie will have a national aviation and social focus on 18th December 2024. The small farming settlement, 16km west of the Otira Gorge, was where Captain J.C. ‘Bert’ Mercer of Hokitika-based Air Travel (NZ) Ltd picked up passengers 90 years earlier to begin New Zealand’s first pioneering licensed scheduled air service and airmail service. On the afternoon of inaugural operations, 18th December 1934, Captain Mercer flew Fox Moth ZK-ADI to Inchbonnie Airfield, on the property of Randall Topliss, to pick up Mr H. Worrall and Mr G.H. Christie, who had arrived at the nearby Inchbonnie Railway Station from the Christchurch express train. The Fox Moth then flew to Hokitika and onto Franz Josef for the celebration of the new daily service. Later that same day Captain Mercer returned the two passengers to Inchbonnie in time for them to catch the train back to Christchurch. The pioneering 1934 flights were a portent of future domestic airline development for New Zealand, and Inchbonnie was frequently used in the early years of the pioneering West Coast air service.

On the late morning and afternoon of Wednesday 18th December 2024 festive events are planned at the historic Inchbonnie Airfield site on the Kumara Inchbonnie Road, about 3½ km south of Lake Brunner. The 90th anniversary of the historic flights of New Zealand’s first licensed scheduled air service will be marked by the unveiling of a commemorative plaque/Information board, aircraft fly-in, and a range of creative events prepared by local community organisations. 

Everyone is welcome. Plan this important date in your diary now. Specific times and further exciting details will follow.

14 June 2024

And now ZK-CID goes - The end of Metroliner Operations in NZ



Departing Auckland for Sydney and then on the Melbourne's Essendon airport as 3C 934 this morning, the 14th of June 2024, was Air Chathams' Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metroliner III ZK-CID. Its departure marks the end of Metroliner operations in New Zealand.

Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metroliner III ZK-CID (c/n AC-692B) was born at the Fairchild Aircraft Corporation's plant in San Antonio, Texas in October 1987 being placed on the US register as N2707D. 

The following year it moved to England being registered as G-BOJN to UK Airways Ltd of Hurn, on  the 23rd of March 1988, Combined Lease Finance PLC of Hurn on the 11th of January 1989 and Ali Finance Ltd of London on 21st of December 1989. During this time it was leased to UK airline, Air Metro.

On the 3rd of March 1990 it was restored to its American registration with the Fairchild Aviation Corporation before coming to New Zealand as part of Air Nelson's major expansion process. It was registered to Air Nelson Ltd on the 5th of September 1990 as ZK-NSS on the 5th of September 1990. 

It arrived still wearing its Air Metro colour scheme and went into Air Nelson service with the word "metro" being replaced with "nelson" and the "am" logo on the tail being modified as "an".

Shortly after entering service with Air Nelson, Metroliner ZK-NSS at Nelson on 9 September 1990

What became the more simplified scheme for ZK-NSS and Air Nelson sister ship ZK-NSQ at Nelson on 28 November 1990

The two British ex-Air Metro didn't stay in the Air Nelson fleet long. While in the UK the local aviation authorities had insisted that the two Air Metro two stall avoidance systems and this made both NSS and NSQ heavier and thus reduced their payload... they were usually restricted to 16 seats. On the 12th of March 1991 ZK-NSS was registered to Airpost Ltd, of Auckland for their mail service. 

Whilst on the Air Post operation, Metroliner ZK-NSS at Wellington on 15 January 1992

In 1997 a joint venture between Airwork NZ Ltd and Chatham Islands Seafoods Ltd began running scheduled services between the Chatham Islands and Wellington on the 9th of October 1997 using Airwork’s Fairchild Metroliner ZK-NSS under the name Chatham Airlink. Twice weekly flights were offered until May 1998 when flights operated on demand. The demand was not there  and the service eventually petered out soon after.

During the CAA's 1996 grounding of Air Chathams, Airwork were chartered to operate AIr Chathams' services. Metroliner ZK-NSS was at Chatham on 12 April 1996. The following year it returned as a competitor before eventually being bought by Air Chathams

Back with Airwork as a freighter ZK-NSS at Auckland on 26 November 1996

In 1999 Origin Pacific Airways expanded their regional network and entered a strategic alliance with Auckland-based Airwork NZ Ltd from the 31st of May 1999. This enabled Origin to utilise Airwork’s Fairchild Metroliner 23 aircraft, and their Fairchild Metroliner IIIs, ZK-NSS, POA and POB. These aircraft were primarily used at night on NZ Post mail flights. All the Airwork aircraft were used at some point on Origin Pacific’s daytime passenger services. ZK-NSS remained in an all white scheme.

Metroliner ZK-NSS on an Origin Pacific flight departing Nelson on 25 June 1999

While in Airwork ownership the aircraft was reregistered to Airwork (NZ) Ltd of Auckland on the 29th of September 1999, to Airwork Holdings Ltd, Auckland Airport on the 8th of August 2003 and Airwork Flight Operations Limited on the 8th of January 2009. 

Meanwhile, in 2003, it received a new mission being configured as an air ambulance for Life Flight New Zealand.

ZK-NSS as an air ambulance for Life Flight at Auckland on 23 September 2014

Following Air Chathams picking up the Auckland-Whakatāne route from Air New Zealand on the 28th of April 2015 there was a need for additional Metroliner capacity and ZK-NSS was registered to Air Chathams Limited on the 8th of April 2016 with the registration being changed to ZK-CID on the 27th of April that year. In entered service with Air Chathams on the 3 of July 2016 flying the afternoon Auckland-Whakatāne-Auckland-Whakatāne services.

Metroliner ZK-CID departing Whakatāne on 9 November 2016

ZK-CID on finals at Auckland on 28 March 2022

ZK-CID was last used on the Whakatāne scheduled service on the 4th of November flying Whakatāne-Auckland as 3C 823, the return 3C 822 and its final Whakatāne-Auckland service 3C 831. 

Following its withdrawal from passenger services it operated freighter flights, mainly between Wellington and the Chatham Islands with an occasional flights between Auckland and the Chatham Islands.

The final freighter flights operated by ZK-CID in Air Chathams' service were operated without fanfare on the 19th and 20th of February 2024 when it flew from the Chatham Islands to Wellington as 3C 212 and the return sector as 3C 221 (on the 19th) and then the final sector as 3C 212 on the 20th of February 2024, this flight being the final Metroliner revenue earning flight in New Zealand. It then positioned back to Auckland as 3C 934. 

Air Chathams' last Fairchild Metroliner, ZK-CID, at Chatham Island on 12 January 2024 between freight flights to New Zealand. Photo : R Deerness

Air Chathams' Fairchild Metroliner III, ZK-CID, the company's last Metroliner, at Wellington on 1 February 2024 was operating a freight service, 3C 221 to the Chatham Islands

With today's departure the Metroliner flies into New Zealand aviation history. 

A list of the Metroliners that have operated in New Zealand can be found in the second half of this post... https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2023/11/40-years-of-scheduled-metroliner.html