|Showing of its new colours, Cessna 402 ZK-EHT over Nelson. Source : Nelson Evening Mail 27 July 1978|
|Cessna 402 ZK-DSG on a charter to Hokitika in 1978.|
|The Cessna 404 Titan ZK-TAT, again on a charter to Hokitika in support of oil exploration off Hokitika. Photo taken in |
|Timetable effective 4 June 1979|
In February 1980 James Air looked to coordinate its air services with Hamilton-based Eagle Air and Napier-based Air Central. The three companies saw this as a way to pool their resources in the face of the difficulties of running a third level operation on lean routes and Air New Zealand’s unwillingness to relinquish any services to provincial centres. The combined effort operation, which was to be operated under the umbrella name Air United, was to be structured around a scheduled daily service by all three operators to Palmerston North. The talks, however, failed to produce to a tangible operation.
|Cessna 402 ZK-DNQ at Greymouth on a charter on 19 August 1979|
|A very sad looking Cessna 404 ZK-TAT at Blenheim's Woodbourne Airport. Source : Nelson Evening Mail, 22 August 1980|
|Timetable effective October 1980|
|The greatly reduced timetable effective April 1981|
|Back with Wellington services, timetable effective November 1981|
|More flights appeared in the March 1982 timetable|
|Cessna 402 ZK-EHT at Wellington|
James Aviation’s founder, Ossie James, had been waiting in the wings for many years for the Government to make a decision as to the role third level airlines should have on the New Zealand aviation scene. He had been promoting this when James had owned Capital Air Services and he continued to promote it when the airline was under the James Air banner. In particular he advocated the possibility of 18-20 seat turbo-prop aircraft servicing the West Coast or other smaller provincial services and being linked to the national carrier. Ultimately this was what was to happen later with Air Nelson and Eagle Air but in the early 1980s both the Government and Air New Zealand were reluctant to move on this. The company was wisely cautious in not investing in larger, more expensive turboprop aircraft without significant work for them. Meanwhile, from November 1981, James Air had to compete not only with Air New Zealand on its Cook Strait routes, but also with a new competitor, Air Albatross. It was this company that was to revolutionise regional air services in New Zealand.
In 1982, however, James Air did add a turboprop aircraft to its fleet. Between mid-1982 and 1984 the company used Beech 99, ZK-JAF (c/n U-102), on an overnight courier service between Auckland-Wellington-Christchurch. An application was also made in 1982 to add a second Beech 99 to the fleet to cater for increasing patronage and freight on the Cook Strait service. As it happened, plans for the second Beech came to nothing, with an Aero Commander 500A, ZK-DCF (c/n 500-A-1274-97), being added as a backup aircraft for the Cessna Titan.
|Beech 99 ZK-JAF was used for courier work. It is seen here at Auckland on 24 November 1982.|
|Aero Commander ZK-DCF at Nelson in January 1983.|
|The last timetable effective 1 January-31 July 1983|