|Newly painted in Nationwide Air colours, Heron ZK-EKO at Ardmore on 30 July 1978.|
The Nationwide Air timetable effective 10 July 1978
|My only picture of a Nationwide Air Carvair - taken on my new second-hand Praktica camera - still at school and saving for a 135 mm lens! Photo taken at Christchurch in January 1979.|
|First Day Cover for Nationwide Air's inaugural Carvair service, 8 November 1978|
Despite the arrival of the first Carvair the launch of the car ferry service remained under a cloud. The Air Services Licensing Authority had deemed Nationwide’s tactic of changing the aircraft type on its licence illegal. Nationwide Air contested this move by appealing to the Supreme Court and in this interim time the car ferry service got airborne in a time which was, ironically, while the central North Island airline division of Nationwide Air was grounded. The Railways department also filed an injunction against the airline in the Supreme Court claiming the service was materially injuring the Railways.
Nationwide Air’s first flight to Nelson, 14 November 1978. Photo : Nelson Evening Mail
The airline division’s financial difficulties worsened when it fell into arrears in its lease payments to Rotorua Airlines (1977) Ltd, Ian Palmer’s company that leased Nationwide Air a Heron and Aero Commander 500, so Palmer repossessed both aircraft.
|Northern News, 5 October 1978|
There were also financial troubles with Haulaways Corporation, Nationwide Air’s parent company, which was placed into receivership on the 29th of November. The local media were told by the Bank of Credit and Commerce International’s representative, Mr K. E. Mirza, that “The group is not being put into liquidation, the move is being made to protect all creditors.” The three financiers had lent Haulaways $2.8 million under two debentures. Mr Mirza expressed his confidence that the company could trade out of its difficulties. Within a matter of days, however, a petition to wind up Nationwide Air was presented to the Supreme Court by Eagle Airways. The petition was supported by Truck Maintenance and Services Ltd, of Wanganui, Bob Jones and Co and the district commissioner of Inland Revenue. This happened on the 6th of December 1978 but the winding-up petition was adjourned for a week so creditors could be given details of a proposed settlement scheme.
The other piece in the airline puzzle was Akarana Air Ltd. In October 1978 it changed its name to become Nationwide Air Akarana Limited though Akarana Air continued to operate under its own name. The new company was one of Nationwide Air’s creditors to the tune of some $116,000. This placed it under financial stress and it was placed in receivership itself on the 13th of March 1979. Some reorganisation enabled it to continue to operate its Auckland-Wairoa air service for some weeks. Wairoa-based Cookson Air took over the service to Auckland on the 4th of May 1979 and Nationwide Air Akarana Ltd was wound up on the 9th of May 1979.
Simon Gunson, a Nationwide Air employee, recounts, "The problems for the car ferry began when ZK-NWB lost a con rod on the No.1 engine smashing the crank case flying to Christchurch. The only spare engine held at Wellington had seized-up. An effort to procure a replacement engine from Papua New Guinea also fell through when the company's manager suffered a heart attack in Port Moresby. This effectively meant that from May to July the airline was only flying with one aircraft and could not satisfy it's customers, nor keep up with debts. I believe some contracts were lost when we were reduced to one aircraft." Nationwide Air International flew their last flight on the 16th of July 1979 with ZK-NWA.