On the 16th of September 1988 the face of provincial air services dramatically changed with the news that Air New Zealand had purchased a 50% holding in both Eagle Air and Air Nelson and that it was relinquishing a number of its Friendship services to the provinces in favour of these third level airlines. From the 31st of October 1988 Eagle Air inherited all Air New Zealand’s services from Auckland to Kaitaia, Whangarei and Gisborne, as well as the flights between Gisborne and Napier and some flights between Auckland and Tauranga. All these routes were to see an increase in frequency. Kaitaia’s single Friendship flight to Auckland was replaced by two Bandeirante flights. Whangarei went from a twice daily Friendship service to Auckland to five Bandeirante flights. Another withdrawal was the Gisborne-Tauranga-Auckland Friendship service leaving Tauranga with one Air New Zealand Friendship flight to both Wellington and Auckland. To complement the daily Friendship service between Auckland and Tauranga Eagle introduced three Bandeirante services. Gisborne’s two Friendship services to Auckland, including the service via Tauranga, were replaced with five direct Bandeirante flights.
|An expanding network... Eagle Air picked up Air New Zealand services to Whangarei, Kaitaia, Tauranga and Gisborne from 31 October 1988|
|An attempt to improve the colour scheme - a couple of cheat lines as seen on Bandeirante ZK-FHX at Hamilton on 11 April 1989|
|A couple of looks at one of the new Bandeirantes ZK-JCM. Above, it was captured at Gisborne on 11 April 1989 still wearing its previous colour scheme. Below, at Napier on 20 January 1992 ZK-JCM is seen in the new Air New Zealand Link colour scheme. |
|Newly arrived Embraer Bandeirante ZK-MAS at Hamilton on 16 January 1990. This was the only aircraft to carry these stripes on the fuselage.|
|The rather tight 18-seat Bandeirante seating configuration. This was later changed to a one each side 15-seat configuration.|
In the time following the takeover of these Air New Zealand services Eagle moved from being a third level airline struggling to survive against a dominant national carrier to a regional airline aligned with the national carrier. The change, however, did not come without casualties. The Northland Districts Aero Club had been a long time operator of an air service between Whangarei and Auckland and by mid-1988 it was using a GAF N22 Nomad on this service. Likewise, Bell Air was operating an excellent service between Whakatane and Auckland with a Beech 99. Both felt the impact of the increased Eagle Air services and both aligned themselves to Ansett’s regional operation, Tranzair. Sadly, despite the connection to Ansett, they were not able to compete with the Eagle Air-Air New Zealand partnership and both these air services were to disappear.
|Eagle's first Metroliner ZK-NSQ was leased from Air Nelson. It was photographed at Nelson on 17 April 1991|
|The Eagle Air network circa late 1994. When did Eagle start into Rotorua???|
|Bandeirante ZK-NDC at Woodbourne on 22 September 2000|
|Ex Air Nelson Metroliner ZK-NSX pulling into the gate at Christchurch on the first day of services from Blenheim on 29 October 1996|
|Both ZK-CEF and ZK-VJG (pictured) only wore the new Link colour scheme. ZK-VJG is seen at Woodbourne on 22 September 2000.|
Eagle Air's retired turboprop fleet
Fairchild-Swearingen SA227AC Metroliner III
Part 4 of this history can be found here : http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.co.nz/2013/10/eagle-high-flyer-link-carrier-and-its.html