From the mid 1970s Coast Air Charter started to develop as an important charter operator, based at Greymouth, but with aircraft also operating from Hokitika, Reefton and Westport. They had a range of single engined Cessna aircraft engaged on, among other things, charter, private hire, training, air ambulance, aerial photography.
|Coast Air Charter's Cessna 177 Cardinal ZK-DIH at Hokitika on 23 April 1984.|
|Cessna 207 ZK-EJD at Greymouth on 25 November 1984.|
|The De Havilland Canada Twin Otter in its American registration the day after it arrived in New Zealand at Ashburton on 23 November 1985.|
|DHC Twin Otter ZK-OTR at home at Greymouth on 23 February 1986.|
|The original timetable for the service that began on 17 January 1986|
The following week on the 22nd of Jaunary, Les Bloxham, the travel editor, of the Christchurch Press reviewed the service...
Coast Air, Flight No. 12 Christchurch to Greymouth.
Wednesday, January 22.
Scheduled departure: 8.30 a.m.
Actual departure: 8.31 a.m.
Est. flight time: 45 min.
Actual flight time: 54 min.
Seating capacity: 20.
Seats filled: 4.
Check-in procedures, handled by Newmans Air, were done efficiently and in a friendly manner. A boarding call was made at 8.23 a.m. and passengers were directed to the de Havilland Twin Otter parked at Gate 2. The aircraft has 20 seats made up of five rows of one plus two, one row of two seats, and a row of three at the rear. The seats are basic and narrow with limited leg room, but they are adequate for such short duration flights. (Incidentally, the best seats as far as plenty of space is concerned are the three at the rear.) Passengers were personally welcomed on board by one of the pilots who also gave the safety briefing. Biscuits with pate and packets of fruit juice were available on a self-help basis. As a non-smoker in a relatively confined area I was pleased by the prohibition on smoking for the duration of the flight. Smokers unable to survive without lighting up for 45 minutes might not be so happy. The noise level was tolerable - in fact, this Otter was a lot quieter than others I have flown in around Fiji and Canada. Twenty-five minutes after take-off we were at an altitude of 10,000ft and crossing the Main Divide slightly to the south of Arthur's Pass at 170 knots (183 miles an· hour). Ten minutes later we were overhead Hokitika. (A dense layer of cloud on the West Coast forced the pilots to use I.F.R. (instrument flight rules) procedures and to home in on the Hokitika beacon before starting their let-down along the coast to Greymouth.) We landed on Greymouth's sealed strip at 9.25 a.m. The flight was smooth and pleasant. In clear weather a feature of this service will be the magnificent mountain scenery flown over at comparatively low altitudes. Unfortunately, viewing is impaired at present by the badly crazed and scratched state of most of the windows. Shooting satisfactory photographs would be impossible. (I was told later that Coast Air is considering replacing the damaged panes with new glass.) Over all, this new link between Greymouth and Christchurch should prove popular with businessmen and tourists alike. Having spent four hours driving the route through Arthur's Pass the previous week, I am now in no doubt about the way I will prefer to go in future.
|The Christchurch Press recorded Coast Air's first flight to Timaru on the 21st of April 1986... Source : The Press|
|The Timaru schedule, effective 21 April 1986|
|Coast Air timetable, effective 21 July 1986|
A major rethink was called for and in late December 1986 the Twin Otter was replaced by a leased eight-seat Piper Navajo, ZK-JGA (which had previously been operated by Goldfields Air - http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/02/photographed-at-taieri-on-6-february.html). The Nelson service was dropped and three return flights were offered between Greymouth and Christchurch on weekdays.
|Timetable as at 1 May 1987|
|A few days before the air service ended... ZK-JGA departs Greymouth on 14 October 1988.|