20 June 2016

Air United - what might have been

Following on from Kris' comment yesterday about connecting the regional airlines this from 1980... it never came to pass and I suspect the same would be true given Air Chathams and Sounds Air don't have a common airport (unless you count the flights coming in from the Chathams). Sounds Air also had a Wanganui-Wellington service which hooked into their flights to NSN, BHE, and PIC... It still didn't generate a lot of inter-regional traffic.

15 February 1980 – New Service 
A co-ordinated travel service will be set up by James Air in conjunction with two other private airlines under the new promotional name Air United. The manager of James Air, Mr T.B. Wright, said his Nelson-based company, Eagle Airways based in Hamilton, and Air Central based in Napier, would all operate as contractors under "the same umbrella name. The name would be used for advertising and for a coordinated timetabling service between the three companies. Each company could book passengers on another company's flights to reach destinations not serviced by their own. Mr Wright said all three companies go through Palmerston North each day and are hoping they can get their own check-in facilities there as Air United. Combined operations would then be controlled from Palmerston North. The scheme is now in its embryo stage after two or three months discussions he said. "I don't see any cost-savings at this stage, but it provides an alternative," he said.  "We've all been battling with Air New Zealand and the Government over the years to find out where third level airlines fit in with the system. New Zealand is the only country without co-ordinated airline services at this level, so we thought we'd set it up ourselves.”

Source : Nelson Evening Mail


  1. Internet was Sci Fi back in 1980.

    KRA and Barrier tried a manual booking service for their very short lived link up services.

    As mentioned already internet booking system compatibility was a problem as both airlines operated on seperate cloud base systems.

    The creation of one common payment booking system would be a big help.
    To link KRA, Barrier, Sounds Air and it Chats up under this would've worked on some routes...and allow new routes to sprout.

    1. I totally agree.

      The technology is available.

      InterCity Group has linked its own brands InterCity, Newmans and Great Sights into an one reservation distribution system for all inter-regional and long distance bus, coach, scenic coach, inter-island ferry, combined bus/rail travel and sightseeing tours into one stop booking and marketing environment.

      If they can do, so can Air Chathams, Soundsair and Barrier Air.

    2. Sounds Air is associated with Takeflite for all their booking needs (based on the Sounds Air website) - do they also have at least partial ownership of that company?

      If so, it is likely that any consolidation between Sounds, Chats and/or Barrier's booking systems would likely mean Takeflite as the system de jure - and is that something that would be in Chathams/Barrier's favour?

  2. Too much investment for far little gain

    1. I disagree.

      As mentioned, the technology is available and it can be done with reasonable cost.

      There is alot to gain from the air carriers if they want to see it happen, through greater utilization of resources and equipment by getting 'bums in seats' and reducing fixed costs.