Updated March 2017
Once again I am extremely grateful to Cliff Marchant and Andrew Crawford for their time and encouragement in the preparation of these three posts.
|The Kaikoura service was added on the 19th of July 2004|
|Britten Norman Islander ZK-DLA (above), on approach to Wellington on 13 September 2006, was replaced by Cessna 208B Grand Caravan ZK-SAA seen below taxiing to the terminal at Wellington on 3 April 2014.|
|Sounds Air's timetable mid 2007 with the Dominion flights to both Nelson and Blenheim included|
|The third Caravan... Cessna 208 Caravan ZK-TZR (above) photographed at Wellington on 4 December 2012 was re-registered ZK-SAN on 28 June 2013 and photographed as ZK-SAN again at Wellington on 3 April 2014|
|Cessna 206 ZK-ENT at Koromiko on 17 November 2011|
|Flightseeing from Nelson after the take over of Flight Corporation|
Sounds Air’s services to Blenheim, like the services to Nelson, began with the introduction of the Dominion Post service on the 9th of January 2006. Evening services to Blenheim were introduced on the 11th of April 2008 when Sounds Air began services between Wellington and Blenheim on Fridays and Sundays nights. These flights rapidly gained popularity and additional flights on Monday and Wednesday evenings soon followed. A major expansion to the Blenheim service began on the 1st of August 2011 when Sounds Air added 13 extra return flights a week to and from Wellington in addition to the 10 weekly return flights it already operated. Further flights to Blenheim were added in August 2013 and September 2014 so that today there are 33 flights per week.
|Sounds Air's fourth Caravan, a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan at Wanganui on 22 October 2014|
|Wanganui Chronicle, 18 January 2014|
|The Sounds Air timetable effective 3 December 2013|
In February 2014 Cessna 206 ZK-ENT and Cessna 185 ZK-PRM were registered to Pelorus Air. The new company has taken over the small piston aircraft and small airstrip operations which have been progressively wound back by Sounds Air in order for them to focus on the all turbine, mostly IFR Caravan operations. Pelorus Air is separate to Sounds Air, but shares the use of Picton Airport to connect to the remote airstrips in the Sounds.
|Pelorus Air Cessna 185 ZK-PRM at Koromiko on 16 February 2014|
From the 1st of September 2014 Sounds Air doubled its weekday flights Wanganui to two flights a day. Southbound flights depart Wanganui for Wellington at 6.30am and 3.30pm Monday to Friday and at 4.00pm on Sunday afternoons. The northbound services depart Wellington at 9.30am and 7.30pm with a 7.00pm flight on Sunday evenings. All the Wanganui flights connect with Sounds Air flights to and from Picton, Blenheim and Nelson both in the morning and in the evening. The additional flights were not successful and the schedule was reduced to a single flight each day in early 2015.
In January 2015 a third Cessna Grand Caravan, ZK-SAW, was added to the fleet and from the 26th of January 2015 a new Blenheim-Paraparaumu service will be offered. Three flights a day each week day are scheduled with a return flight on Sundays.
|Sounds Air's third Cessna Grand Caravan, ZK-SAW, at Wellington on 12 June 2015 (above) |
and at Woobourne on 23 February 2017 (below)
Air New Zealand's withdrawal from Westport and the Wellington-Taupo route enabled further expansion for Sounds Air. The company made six-year agreements with the Buller and Taupo District Councils whereby the local council guarantees the first three seats per flight. To service the routes the company purchased two Pilatus PC-12 aircraft.
The first to arrive was ZK-PLS and this inaugurated air services from Westport to Wellington on the 28th of April 2015. Sounds Air fly between Westport and Wellington daily, except Saturdays, offering 13 return flights each week. Mondays and Fridays, the busiest days of the week, feature three return flights. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays there are two return flights. On Sundays, Sounds Air offer a late afternoon return flight.
Full coverage of the launch of the Westport service can be found here:
|Pilatus PC-12 ZK-PLS at Westport on 28 April 2015|
|Westport News 13 March 2015|
Sounds Air commenced Taupo to Wellington flights on 2 June 2015. Three return flights are operated each weekday with two return flights being operated on Saturdays and Sundays. The first flight, (SDA 803) was operated by Sounds Air's second Pilatus PC-12 ZK-PLZ under the command of Craig Anderson. Also on the flight deck was Sound's Air's Chief Pilot Willie Sage.
Full coverage of the launch of the Taupo service can be found here:
|Pilatus PC12 arrives at Taupo for the first scheduled flight to Wellington on 2 June 2015.|
On 15 June 2015 Sounds Air introduced Paraparaumu-Nelson services. The first flight was flown by Tim Johnson in Cessna 208B Grand Caravan ZK-SAY. Two return flights a day are operated on weekdays and one on Sundays. At the same time the Paraparaumu-Blenheim service changed to the same frequencies.
From the 6th of September 2015 the Tuesday and Thursday flights on the Blenheim-Paraparaumu-Nelson. Sounds Air's third Pilatus PC-12, ZK-PLT, entered service on the 14th of September 2015, this being the first Pilatus to wear full Sounds Air colours.
|Pilatus PC12 ZK-PLT at Taupo on 9 March 2016|
|Pilatus PC12 ZK-PLT at Taupo on 8 August 2016|
Sounds Air commenced another new air route between Blenheim and Napier on the 5th of November 2015. The inaugural services, northbound SDA712 and southbound SDA713, were flown in Pilatus PC-12 ZK-PLZ under the command of Tim Johnson. Three passengers flew to Napier with eight on the return flight to Blenheim.
A fourth Pilatus PC12, ZK-PLX, entered service May 2016.
Sounds Air commenced a new service between Blenheim and Christchurch on the 1st of August 2016 following Air New Zealand withdrew from the route the day before. Pilatus PC12 ZK-PLX was used for the first flights, SDA651 to Christchurch and SDA652 back to Blenheim. These were captained by Craig Anderson with Dave King as co-pilot. Eleven flights a week are offered between the two centres.
|The Blenheim-Christchurch timetable, effective 1 August 2016|
|Pilatus PC12 ZK-PLX at Wellington on 28 October 2016|
|Sounds Air's corporate Pilatus PC12 ZK-PLZ at Woodbourne on 23 February 2017|
2017 saw the arrival of Pilatus PC12 ZK-PLV in service giving Sounds Air a fleet of five Cessna Caravans and five Pilatus PC12s.
|Pilatus PC12 ZK-PLV at Wellington on 23 February 2017.|
Sounds Air is an airline that has grown from finding its niche as a charter carrier to the remote areas of the Marlborough Sounds to being a regional commuter airline offering reliability, safety, a good timetable, good fares, a good relationship and reputation with passengers. The present structure of the company will continue to provide a solid foundation for further expansion in the years ahead.
ZK-PLS - Pilatus PC12/45 (c/n 363)
ZK-PLT - Pilatus PC12/45 (c/n 379)
ZK-PLV - Pilatus PC12/45 (c/n 400)
ZK-PRM - Cessna A185F Skywagon (c/n 18504414)
ZK-SAW - Cessna 208B Grand Caravan (c/n 208B2087)