At that time Air New Zealand operated a midday service between Auckland and Whakatane and a mid-morning service from Auckland to Hamilton with the return service being flown in the early afternoon.
On the 8th of November 1979 the company withdrew its application to fly between Auckland and Whakatane after Bell Air were granted approval to operate their non-scheduled service on this route as a scheduled service. Instead Eagle changed its plans for the Bandeirante and instead looked to operate it on the existing services with from Hamilton to Palmerston North and to connect these flights with new scheduled services between Hamilton and Auckland. Approval to operate the Auckland-Hamilton route was granted on the 12th of December 1979.
|Eagle Air's first Embraer Bandeirante, still in its Brazilian reigstration, PT-SBF, on arrival in New Zealand, Photo taken at Ardmore on 31 May 1980 by R Killick|
Timetable effective 1 June 1980 - the first Bandeirante timetable
|My first flight on a Bandeirante was on ZK-ERU on 24 November 1982 from Auckland to Hamilton. The above photo is taken at Auckland and the one below after my arrival at Hamilton.|
|Cessna 402 ZK-DSG was photographed at Greymouth on 9 September 1981, a few weeks before it launched the Wellington service|
|The Evening Post, 28 September 1981|
|Timetable Effective 13 September 1982|
|Piper Seneca ZK-DCI at Hamilton on my 21st birthday, the 3rd of August 1983. I was flying Whakatane-Hamilton-Westport-Hokitika on Bell Air's Beech 99.|
|Eagle's second Beech Baron ZK-UPB never carried titles. It is seen at Palmerston North on an Eagle service on 22 August 1983.|
|Inherited from Air Central was Cessna 402B ZK-EHS taken here at Palmerston North on 18 May 1984.|
With the introduction of the new aircraft Eagle introduced its first standardised fleet colour scheme which was worn by both Bandeirantes and Eagle’s four Chieftains.
|Embraer Bandeirante ZK-FHX, taken at Palmerston North (above) on 21 February 1985 and at Christchurch on 8 September 1985 (below)|
The arrival of the new aircraft led to Eagle’s services being rationalised. The new timetable effective from the 2nd of April 1984 was particularly geared to the needs of the business community and included a number of morning and evening flights to allow a full day for business meetings. Flights were centred on Hamilton and Palmerston North and were operated on what Eagle called a "wheel and spoke" basis. This saw Bandeirantes operating Eagle’s main trunk routes, namely Auckland-Hamilton-Palmerston North and Hamilton-Napier-Gisborne with the Chieftains and Barons offering connecting services from Hamilton and Palmerston North to other centres. This timetable saw the next phase of the withdrawal of the old Air Central network. Rotorua lost its direct connection to New Plymouth and received instead two flights each weekday, one to and from Gisborne and Napier and the other to Palmerston North. Tauranga’s flights were changed to two flights a day to Hamilton from where connections were made to Gisborne, Napier, New Plymouth, Wanganui and Palmerston North. Flights to New Plymouth were extended with four flights each weekday being operated between New Plymouth and Hamilton where connections were made to Auckland, Tauranga, Gisborne and Napier. New Plymouth also had two flights each weekday to Palmerston North where connections could be made to Wellington, Rotorua, and Gisborne. At the same time direct flights between Wellington and Wanganui were axed because of lack of demand.
|An Eagle advert showing some of the enlarged fleet and the enlarged route structure. Source: National Business Review, 24 September 1984|
|ZK-FHX after its wheels up landing at Palmerston North. Photo : The Press, 15 April 1987|
|In the Mutual Group colour scheme, the original Bandeirante ZK-ERU arrives at Hamilton on 20 May 1988|
|Three Eagle Bandeirantes at Hamilton in 1988. Photo : Darry Morgan|
The arrival of the new Bandeirante enabled three Piper Chieftains to be sold. Only one was kept, ZK-EIE, and this was used to maintain the Hamilton-New Plymouth sector. At this time Eagle cut its service to Rotorua as well as the Hamilton-Wanganui service with the last flight being operated to Wanganui on the 3rd of July 1987. This service was later picked up by Air River City.
|Beech Baron ZK-ECA at Wanganui on 22 February 1985. In its latter years it carried the small logo on the tail|
Part 3 of this history can be found here : http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.co.nz/2013/09/the-eagle-soars-truly-becoming-regional.html