22 November 2017

Parcelair - The Night-time Freight Flyer




Parcelair Limited, was registered on the 25th of June 2015 as a joint venture company owned by Fieldair Holdings Limited, a subisdary of Freightways, and Airwork Holdings Limited.

The following day it was announced that the company would operate three Boeing 737-400 freighter aircraft between Auckland, Palmerston North and Christchurch, replacing the current five Convair freighter aircraft operated by Air Freight (NZ) for Freightways and the Boeing 737-300 and two Fokker Friendships operated by Airwork on NZ Post flights. The aircraft will be leased from Airwork and operated by Parcelair.

Freightways’ Managing Director, Dean Bracewell, announced that as express package volumes have grown, demand for earlier positioning of freight through the airport hubs has increased, and to sustain the current and the expected new levels of freight required by customers, Freightways has for some time been exploring alternative aircraft. "This new airfreight service will provide increased airfreight carrying capacity, faster sector speeds, savings in annual capital and operating costs and reduced carbon emissions per item of freight carried. In addition, the new fleet will provide sufficient capacity to accommodate the expected future growth of our Business to Business and Business to Consumer  customers."

New Zealand Post chief executive Brian Roche said the new aircraft are faster and will provide greater volume capacity and reliability, which is important for New Zealand Post in a growing market for express parcels and packets. “With more people shopping online than ever before, the demand for overnight parcel delivery has grown and this will continue. “These aircraft will help to future-proof our network, giving New Zealand Post the ability to support our customers’ service requirements and meet the growing market for the next 10 to 15 years.” The new fleet will provide operational cost savings for New Zealand Post and avoid further significant change over at least the next 10 years.

It was announced that the 737s would be converted to freighters in the United States and would be progressively pressed into service by May 2016.

The first flight was operated on the 22nd of August 2016 with Boeing 737-400 freighter ZK-PAK operating as PAK71 from Auckland to Christchurch and then to Palmerston North as PAK62. The operator callsign for Parcelair was initially allocated as PAK however from the 5th of September 2016 this was changed to APK with the callsign Airpak.


Parcelair Boeing 737-400 ZK-PAK at Auckland on 31 July 2016

The Freightways Annual Report to the 30th of June 2017 reported that a decision had been made in February 2017 to introduce additional airfreight capacity between Auckland Christchurch through regularly operating an extra Boeing 737-400 aircraft and/or the chartering back of a Convair for the greater than anticipated airfreight volume growth. The Annual report stated that “While this additional capacity comes at a cost, due to it not being fully utilised, it is required to ensure a sustainable premium service offer. Due diligence is under way on permanently introducing a fourth Boeing 737-400 aircraft that will effectively replace this additional return flight/charter for a similar cost and provide continuity in case of maintenance or related issues to the existing aircraft fleet.”

Parcelair Boeing 737-400 ZK-PAQ at Auckland on 17 November 2017


Freightways' Annual Report also reported on the move to the new purpose-built automated air-freight facility on the south side of Runway 11/29 at Christchurch Airport. 

In November 2017 the three Parcelair Boeing 737s were flying an overnight schedule as follows; 


Mon/Tue, Tue/Wed, Wed/Thu, Thu/Fri nights

APK72          CHC-AKL
APK75          AKL-CHC
APK76          CHC-AKL
APK79          AKL-CHC

APK71          AKL-CHC
APK62          CHC-PMR
APK63          PMR-CHC
APK64          CHC-PMR
APK56          PMR-AKL

APK73          AKL-CHC
APK74          CHC-AKL
APK77          AKL-CHC
APK78          CHC-AKL

Fri/Sat night

APK75          AKL-CHC
APK76          CHC-AKL

APK51          AKL-PMR
APK63          PMR-CHC
APK64          CHC-PMR
APK56          PMR-AKL

Parcelair Boeing 737-400 ZK-PAT at Auckland on 28 January 2017

10 comments:

  1. Thanks Steve for your research did not know too much about Parcelair. One would think they could operate more flights some during the day to cater for demand which could help them save on the cost of adding a fourth 737.

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    1. Trouble with that is that a premium service (ie Businesses deliveries) will usually require early next day delivery. Producers of freight generally don't provide this freight until late in the afternoon or early evening. Which means that with processing and transport times factored in you don't really have any product to send on a flight during the day. If volumes continue current trends then I would expect that a 4th aircraft will be required. I believe that an additional is coming online soon for the Christmas period as well.

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  2. What is happening at Fieldair following withdrawal of the convairs? Are the 737's serviced at Palmerston North?

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    1. Not a lot. Airwork got all the maintenance on 737.

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    2. As I understand it ParcelAir is more of a front office than anything with Airwork effectively running the show. Fieldair does have a reasonable range of work but will be interesting to see how this fits into Freightways plans now that it's no longer an essential piece of the business.

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  3. Thanks for the article.
    Occasionally if I wake during the wee small hours I have a look at flight-radar and see these aircraft flying the country, and send a thought to the crews working these unsociable hours.

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  4. I’ve heard from a mate at NZ Post that these 734 have been, or at least were at the start, notoriously unreliable and were unserviceable quite a bit. Caused a lot of stress with late freight. They likened them to a Toyota Hiace with 500,000km on the clock.

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    1. There have been one or two issues. Some fairly major ones as well......

      I have heard that they didn't have the best reputation from when they were with Jetconnect/Qantas.

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    2. Every time a 737 breaks down a convair purrs

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  5. My mate flys these a/c. He came from a very reputable airline and he was impressed with the gear on the machines. The weather lately hasn't helped either, fog and who wants to go into Palmy in the dead of night in the crud? Freight dog I call him. Thats aviation.

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