13 December 2017

Gisborne on Monday

Currently operating the only 3rd level service into Gisborne is Air Napier... The Piper Cherokee 6 ZK-ELK does the courier run from Napier Tuesday to Saturday and the return flight Monday to Friday. Photo taken on 11 December 2017
On a doctor's flight from Napier, Air Napier's Piper Seneca ZK-WUG. The DHB contract requires the doctors to be carried in a twin.
Operating more flights to Hamilton since Sunair's grounding, Air Gisborne's Piper Panther ZK-SRC
Skyline Aviation's Beech King Air ZK-ZZA was operating air ambulance flights for Air Gisborne
Big brother - Air Nelson Bombardier Q300 ZK-NEZ at Gisborne
Eagle Flight Training are now based at Gisborne - Diamond DA20 Katana ZK-DAE
Cessna 172 ZK-JMR enjoying the sunshine
Cessna 182 Skyline ZK-MRH taxi-ing for departure

12 December 2017

Three more from Whakatane

Now on line with Aerohire from Whakatane is Cessna 172S ZK-CWD. Photo taken at Whakatane on 9 December 2017

Aerohire's Cessna 152 ZK-MDS at Whakatane

Cirrus SR22 N438NZ at Whakatane

11 December 2017

Air Chathams at Whakatane

Air Chathams' Douglas DC-3 ZK-AWP was at Whakatane on 9 December 2017 doing scenic flights over White Island

Looking after the scheduled services was Fairchild Metroliner III ZK-CID

10 December 2017

Flying the Herald - Air Rotorua

Air Rotorua was started by Neil Christophers who owned the Rotorua Flying School and PA34-200T Seneca ZK-FNB (c/n 34-7970236). At this stage the Seneca was largely used for charter and scenic work.

In October 1988 Neil moved to a job with the expanding Eagle Air and Ray Young and John Cooper formed R and J Aeroleasing who purchased ZK-FNB and the Air Rotorua operation but continued to operate it under the Rotorua Flying School operators certificate.

On the 31st of October 1988 Eagle Air took over Air New Zealand’s Fokker Friendship services between Gisborne and Auckland using Embraer Bandeirante aircraft. NZ Herald newspapers were flown from Auckland to Gisborne on these Eagle Air flights as freight. Unfortunately the newspapers were often offloaded due to weight issues with the Bandeirante operation. This proved most unsatisfactory to the NZ Herald's publishers, Wilson and Horton, and led to Air Rotorua starting a very long association flying the NZ Herald from Rotorua to Gisborne.

The newspaper service began on ***. Normally the departed for Gisborne from Rotorua between 6 and 6.30am with the return service leaving Gisborne at 8.00am. While primarily being for the cartage of the newspapers passengers were carried, though the number of seats available depended on the size of the newspaper. Two flights were required to be made on a Saturday as the weekend edition of the NZ Herald was a lot larger. The return flight departed Gisborne at 8.00am and would also called into Taupo, Tauranga or Whakatane if traffic was offering.

Air Rotorua timetable effective 1 December 1990

In October 1991 Neil Christophers closed the Flying School. As Air Rotorua did not have an operator's certificate the Seneca was dry leased  to the Rotorua Aero Club who continued to operate the Air Rotorua service. John Cooper left Rotorua not long after to take up a job with Wairarapa Airlines leaving the flying to a number of young up and coming pilots!

Air Rotorua's Piper Seneca ZK-FNB about to start at Gisborne on 22 January 1992 for the return flight to Rotorua

By early 1994 a Friday evening service was also offered departing Rotorua at 5.00pm and leaving Gisborne for the return flight at 6.00pm

Air Rotorua timetable, 25 February 1994

Gisborne Herald, 6 September 1995

Air Rotorua's Piper Seneca ZK-FNB in a new colour scheme at Rotorua on 17 January 1996

Air Rotorua timetable as at February 1996

Leslie Aviation had been established by Vivienne and Bob Leslie in 1994. The Rotorua-based company offered pilot training and air charter service with a variety of single-engined aircraft. In 1996 Leslie Aviation also took over Bay Air which had been running a weekday courier service from Rotorua to Auckland for Ansett NZ using Cessna R172K ZK-FGF.

Late in 1996 the Rotorua Aero Club got  into financial strife and Leslie Aviation Ltd took over the Rotorua Aero Club’s training arm. Bob Leslie and Mark Malone bought the Seneca and established Air Rotorua Ltd to operate the Gisborne air service and the charter work. Mark was a former part owner of Geryserland Airways who in their heyday had float planes and various other aircraft based in Rotorua. The trading name Lakeside Aviation appeared on the Air Rotorua timetable with the Seneca continuing to be used on the Gisborne service as well as the courier flight to Auckland.

The timetable effective 14 January 1997 - operating as Lakeside Aviation on the timetable but with Air Rotorua titles remaining on the Seneca

Air Rotorua's Seneca ZK-FNB departing Gisborne on 13 October 1999
In mid-2001 Air Rotorua and the Seneca were sold to Whakatane-based Scott Air.

04 December 2017

Another Caravan for Air Milford

Arriving into Auckland yesterday was a brand new Cessna 208 Grand Caravan, N253PV. It is set to join Air Milford's fleet.
Meanwhile there is no indication that Air Milford will pick up the Queenstown - Te Anau schedule it operated last year... see

30 November 2017

Sounds Air turns 30

Jane Davies recalls the "little garden shed" south of Picton that used to offer a flight to Wellington. She was just 12-years-old when she first flew with Sounds Air from Koromiko to Wellington three decades ago. Sounds Air had just one airplane, run by Cliff and Diane Marchant in 1987, flying people across Cook Strait. "I remember at the time there was a sign up that said fares were only $29 more expensive than a ferry ride," Davies chuckled. Davies was one of many reflecting on how the airline had grown as the company celebrates its 30th birthday on Friday.  "The changes over the years are just amazing," Davies said. "Just seeing that growth in the teams on the ground in Blenheim and Nelson and Wellington, and the number of pilots. They used to all know me by name, now there's so many pilots I haven't even met yet. It's such a cool little company." When Sounds Air managing director Andrew Crawford took over in 2003 the airline had a 12­-seater Cessna Caravan flying one route, between Picton and Wellington, and three pilots sharing the work. "The plan was always to grow it but where it was going to grow to, who could have known?" Crawford said. "Now we have 70 staff in total, grown from eight staff when I started. We've got 26 pilots now. But in 10 years time, we might look back and go, 'gosh, we were so small'." Branching out with flights to Westport, Taupō, Napier and Paraparaumu were milestones for Crawford, as was the purchase of the nine-seater Pilatus PC-12. He was also pleased with the Blenheim­ to Christchurch flights launched last year, three months before the Kaikōura earthquake, and picking up the route dropped in Air New Zealand's regional restructure, he said. Crawford was considering putting larger planes on that route after high demand, and expected to know if it was feasible in January, he said. Christchurch business owner Jack Thompson was one of the passengers taking advantage of the new route, flying to Blenheim for work instead driving six hours on the alternate highway. "I can fly in the morning and out in the afternoon, it's perfect. And there's only eight to 10 seats so there's not a lot of people to make the plane late. You just walk on and walk off, there's no messing around." Flying with a locally-owned operator was a conscious choice, Thompson said. "I think it's an amazing service. And they're a locally-owned business, that's why I support them. They're taking on the big boys and it's not easy. I respect that. "You can see into the cockpit and the pilots talk to you. Even the baggage handlers say, 'gidday, how was your flight?'" Blenheim business coach Chris Walbran​ frequently flew to Wellington with Sounds Air over the last decade. "We've watched them grow. They're an excellent business," Walbran said. "In all these years there were only three days they couldn't get us across the gap [Cook Strait], because of the weather. Sometimes they have to vary their flight path to work around the weather, but at least you get there. The pilots adjust their flying to the conditions and they fly for passenger comfort. They're very skilled." But it was the "very friendly staff" that kept Walbran loyal, he said. "They're always willing to go out of their way. And we have nice banter." Crawford said the company's best advertising was "word of mouth". "Customers like Chris [Walbran] have been flying with us for as long as I've been here. So our motto is, keep those customers happy, and hopefully they will tell their friends. We provide a service that makes it impossible for them not to tell their friends how good it was." He credited the staff for the company's longevity. "It makes you very proud, obviously. It's been hard work getting here but it's only been done through the support of our fantastic staff. "Thank you to all our loyal passengers and staff for great support for 30 years and I can't wait to see what the future brings."

My profile on Soundsair can be found here: 

and on Sounds Air here:

27 November 2017

Still sitting on the ground...

Sunair Aviation still remains grounded. The Civil Aviation Authority suspended Sunair's Air Operator Certificate, along with its Certificate of Airworthiness for the fleet on the 8th of September 2017. 

Some of Sunair's fleet at Tauranga on 29 October 2017
A correspondent sent me this email - Further to your recent posts on the Sunair Aztecs growing grass at Tauranga a visit to Whangarei Airport this last weekend revealed Aztec FVP and Cessna 172 DHN both out to grass. The Sunair office was chained shut.

On the doctor's flight - Sunair's Piper Aztec ZK-PIX at Kaitaia on 27 January 2017

I for one look forward to Sunair getting airborne again...

26 November 2017

Recent Pics

Hidden away on the Green Lake at Rotorua on 20 November 2017 was Volcanic Air's DHC Otter ZK-VAS
Earlier in the day was Helicopter Services BOP's Aerospatiale Squirrel ZK-HKC was at Taupo
along with stable mate Aerospatiale Squirrel ZK-HZD
Also present at Taupo was Robinson Inflite Charter's Robinson R44 ZK-HXB
Beech 95-B55 Baron ZK-SEB was at Hamilton on 21 November 2017

23 November 2017

Cryptic Clue

On Barrier Air's Facebook page is another one of those black and white photos, no comments...

See what I wrote on Barrier Air on New Year's Day...

22 November 2017

Parcelair - The Night-time Freight Flyer

Parcelair Limited, was registered on the 25th of June 2015 as a joint venture company owned by Fieldair Holdings Limited, a subisdary of Freightways, and Airwork Holdings Limited.

The following day it was announced that the company would operate three Boeing 737-400 freighter aircraft between Auckland, Palmerston North and Christchurch, replacing the current five Convair freighter aircraft operated by Air Freight (NZ) for Freightways and the Boeing 737-300 and two Fokker Friendships operated by Airwork on NZ Post flights. The aircraft will be leased from Airwork and operated by Parcelair.

Freightways’ Managing Director, Dean Bracewell, announced that as express package volumes have grown, demand for earlier positioning of freight through the airport hubs has increased, and to sustain the current and the expected new levels of freight required by customers, Freightways has for some time been exploring alternative aircraft. "This new airfreight service will provide increased airfreight carrying capacity, faster sector speeds, savings in annual capital and operating costs and reduced carbon emissions per item of freight carried. In addition, the new fleet will provide sufficient capacity to accommodate the expected future growth of our Business to Business and Business to Consumer  customers."

New Zealand Post chief executive Brian Roche said the new aircraft are faster and will provide greater volume capacity and reliability, which is important for New Zealand Post in a growing market for express parcels and packets. “With more people shopping online than ever before, the demand for overnight parcel delivery has grown and this will continue. “These aircraft will help to future-proof our network, giving New Zealand Post the ability to support our customers’ service requirements and meet the growing market for the next 10 to 15 years.” The new fleet will provide operational cost savings for New Zealand Post and avoid further significant change over at least the next 10 years.

It was announced that the 737s would be converted to freighters in the United States and would be progressively pressed into service by May 2016.

The first flight was operated on the 22nd of August 2016 with Boeing 737-400 freighter ZK-PAK operating as PAK71 from Auckland to Christchurch and then to Palmerston North as PAK62. The operator callsign for Parcelair was initially allocated as PAK however from the 5th of September 2016 this was changed to APK with the callsign Airpak.

Parcelair Boeing 737-400 ZK-PAK at Auckland on 31 July 2016

The Freightways Annual Report to the 30th of June 2017 reported that a decision had been made in February 2017 to introduce additional airfreight capacity between Auckland Christchurch through regularly operating an extra Boeing 737-400 aircraft and/or the chartering back of a Convair for the greater than anticipated airfreight volume growth. The Annual report stated that “While this additional capacity comes at a cost, due to it not being fully utilised, it is required to ensure a sustainable premium service offer. Due diligence is under way on permanently introducing a fourth Boeing 737-400 aircraft that will effectively replace this additional return flight/charter for a similar cost and provide continuity in case of maintenance or related issues to the existing aircraft fleet.”

Parcelair Boeing 737-400 ZK-PAQ at Auckland on 17 November 2017

Freightways' Annual Report also reported on the move to the new purpose-built automated air-freight facility on the south side of Runway 11/29 at Christchurch Airport. 

In November 2017 the three Parcelair Boeing 737s were flying an overnight schedule as follows; 

Mon/Tue, Tue/Wed, Wed/Thu, Thu/Fri nights

APK72          CHC-AKL
APK75          AKL-CHC
APK76          CHC-AKL
APK79          AKL-CHC

APK71          AKL-CHC
APK62          CHC-PMR
APK63          PMR-CHC
APK64          CHC-PMR
APK56          PMR-AKL

APK73          AKL-CHC
APK74          CHC-AKL
APK77          AKL-CHC
APK78          CHC-AKL

Fri/Sat night

APK75          AKL-CHC
APK76          CHC-AKL

APK51          AKL-PMR
APK63          PMR-CHC
APK64          CHC-PMR
APK56          PMR-AKL

Parcelair Boeing 737-400 ZK-PAT at Auckland on 28 January 2017