14 December 2017

Summer Schedule for FlyStark



Flystark have announced a daily summer schedule for flights between Whitianga, Great Barrier Island and Ardmore. The airline is currently operating one Gippsland Airvan, ZK-FSR.



13 December 2017

Wellington - Queenstown route to reopen



Jetstar is to start operating between Wellington and Queenstown for the first time since 2013. The airline says it is providing travellers with a choice - Air New Zealand currently flies the route. The airline will operate an Airbus A320 on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, departing  Wellington at 8:35am and returning from Queenstown at 10:25am, with flights commencing  March 27 next year. Jetstar Head of New Zealand Daniel Banens said Queenstown was a world-class destination and the airline was delighted to be back on the route. "We've worked closely with Wellington and Queenstown airports to identify customer demand and we're looking forward to providing a low fares option on the route ahead of the 2018 ski season," Banens said. "Queenstown is hugely popular with our customers and has experienced significant passenger growth over the past few years. "We're sure Wellingtonians will welcome having a choice of airline to the southern tourist resort and we also expect the service to be popular with Central Otago travellers visiting the capital for business or events." It will be Jetstar's fifth domestic route from Wellington and second domestic route from Queenstown. The airline currently flies from Wellington to Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Nelson, and between Queenstown and Auckland.


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
http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.co.nz/2017/03/air-milford-trying-schedule.html

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