31 January 2015

Vincent Saab Sold to Rex





There has been some suggestion and even speculation in the comments in this blog that a NZ operator may purchase of the ex-Vincent Aviation's Saabs...  Here is the news that one of them has been sold in Australia...


Regional Express (Rex) today announced that it has taken delivery of a Saab 340B aircraft at Townsville. The aircraft used to belong to Vincent Aviation before it went into administration. This brings the Rex Group fleet of Saab 340 aircraft to 52, with 40 of them fully paid for in cash and the rest on a short term mortgage. Rex's General Manager of Network Strategy and Sales Warrick Lodge said, “The aircraft is intended for deployment in Queensland where new opportunities have opened up with the collapse of Skytrans." "With the award of five Queensland Government regulated routes to Rex, we now service 23 towns and cities across the state. This provides us with the economies of scale to further service the more remote parts of Queensland like the Cape Peninsula, as well as respond to the solicitations of other cities that have been crying out for our great hospitable air services at affordable fares." "The past 30 months have seen passenger numbers declining due to the economy and the increased competition. Rex needs to respond to this challenge by finding growth in other areas. Queensland represents the perfect opportunity for us given its size, geography and absence of quality regional carriers." "Rex will continue to inject more aircraft into Queensland in tandem with new opportunities opening up in the state." Regional Express (Rex) is Australia’s largest independent regional airline operating a fleet of more than 40 Saab 340 aircraft on some 1,300 weekly flights to 52 destinations throughout New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland. The Rex Group comprises Regional Express, air freight and charter operator Pel-Air Aviation and Dubbo- based regional airline Air Link, as well as the pilot academy Australian Airline  Pilot Academy.

Source : Regional Express Media Release



Additional Fees on Air NZ

Air New Zealand is being investigated by the Commerce Commission over alleged "drip pricing" tactics that have got its Australian counterparts in hot water.  Customers who book with the airline using the web or a mobile phone are shown a headline airfare, then have other charges added as they click through the process. One of these is a domestic travel insurance charge, typically $10 for a one-way domestic flight, which is added on an "opt-out" basis, meaning it will be added to the airfare unless customers choose otherwise. Wellington lawyer Michael Wigley has criticised the insurance charge, which he has labelled as "drip pricing", where companies advertise a low initial price then add other fees later in the purchase process. Drip pricing is in the spotlight across the Tasman with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission taking legal action against Virgin Australia and Jetstar over added booking fees. Air New Zealand has been in trouble for drip pricing before: in 2006 it was fined $600,000 after the Commerce Commission prosecuted it for misleading customers about the real price of its airfares. Wigley said requiring customers to opt out of the travel insurance meant some people would accidentally buy insurance they did not want or need.  "The whole idea of drip pricing is people inadvertently end up paying for things." Wigley raised the issue after realising he had unknowingly paid for travel insurance on a number of domestic flights, but he has had mixed messages from the airline about whether he can get a refund. He was told by An Air New Zealand lawyer that the company refunded any inadvertent purchases of insurance unless there had been a claim on the policy. However, following an online inquiry to the customer services team he was told that any insurance issued outside of the 14 day cool off period is not refundable. Wigley said that while $10 may not be a huge amount per passenger, it could add up to quite a lot of revenue for Air New Zealand if many people mistakenly purchased it. "The Commerce Commission should be looking at this and digging out internal documents. There may be management papers that talk about this." Commerce Commission spokeswoman Victoria Rogers confirmed the commission was investigating and said it could not comment further at this stage. "We are aware of this and yes we are looking into it," she said. Air New Zealand spokeswoman Imogen Dennis said the airline's view was that its offer of travel insurance was fair and complied with all laws. She said it offered customers the ability to opt out of taking up insurance on three separate occasions during the process of booking a domestic fare, or four times if the customer goes through the seat select process. "A small number of customers do contact us having inadvertently purchased travel insurance, or decided they no longer wish to be insured and we happily refund the insurance paid, providing it is within two weeks of purchase," Dennis said. "Obviously if the customer has already commenced travel or made an insurance claim, they have already taken the benefit of the insurance and will not be entitled to a refund," she said. Consumer New Zealand chief executive Sue Chetwin said drip pricing was a big concern for her organisation, which had submitted to Parliament on the issue in the past. She said add-on charges were common in the airline industry and Jetstar was "not good and maybe marginally worse than Air New Zealand on ticket pricing". Chetwin said the airline industry was not the only one that added extra charges on to initially cheap ticket prices. "With Ticketek you virtually never pay the price advertised because you pay all sorts of other fees," she said.

Source : http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/65505022/air-new-zealand-drip-pricing-investigated

I have two bugbears with Air NZ charges...

The first is the additional credit card fee for each flight - why if you buy a return ticket at the one time do you have to pay two credit card fees????

The chose not to pay the seat selection fee because normally at the airport you can do a certain amount of seat selection. But a few times now I have been on partially full flights and couldn't select a window seat at the kiosk... I presumed because people were already in those seats but when I got in the plane there were a number of window seats free.

Come on Air NZ - give folk a break... you don't have to embrace all the cut-price airlines policies. After all you are still the national airline, with the exception of Wairarapa, North Otago and soon the Far North, Buller and the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

30 January 2015

Two from Taupo

I had a quick trip to Taupo a few days ago... not much flying and only a couple of aircraft to photograph

Cessna 208B Grand Caravan ZK-JMP at Taupo on 27 January 2015
Aerospatiale Squirrel ZK-HBW at Taupo on 27 January 2015


29 January 2015

In the Inbox #2 - Repaint Continues

Another from my email inbox...

Hi there my name is Matthew Gibson and while I was waiting for My flight arrive. I noticed that Air New Zealand has painted up a new Dash 8. This photo was Taken at Hawkes Bay airport and you're welcome to stick it up on your blog letting everyone know about it. The rego is ZK-NES 

Newly repainted Q300 ZK-NES at Napier on 27 January 2015 with rain water on the ground! We need some over here...
On the repaint programme Air Nelson's Q300s ZK-NEP/Q/R/S are in the new livery and ZK-NET is due back in service on 29 January in new livery
 
Cheers for the photo Matthew


In the Inbox #1 - Kiwi now in Aussie

Dylan wrote in a couple of days ago...

Hi, I am a keen follower of your blog and it keeps me in touch with NZ GA, so thankyou!

I fly in Darwin where we had aircraft VH - NJS, and today I happened to see the aircraft's logbooks which included New Zealand logbook! I was quite surprised and your photo is the ONLY photo I can find online

http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com.au/2013/11/25-years-ago-november-1988-three-pipers.html 

I've attached photos of the aircraft taken last year some 26 years later!!

Since you also included the name of the owner on your website it's clear to see why it was registered NJS! (Although I believe that's common with aircraft ownership anyway).

If you took any Great Northern Air Race photos I'm looking forward to seeing them too.

Sorry Dylan... Didn't get to see this year's race. Thanks for the pics




28 January 2015

And another pic of the new Westport plane...

Another shot of Sounds Air's new Pilatus PC-12 which will be used on the Westport run from late April. Photo taken at Auckland on 28 April 2015


Westport Plane Arrives

Arriving into Auckland today was Sounds Air's new Pilatus PC-12 VH-KWO earmarked for the Wellington-Westport service. I'm really looking forward to checking it out...


On the start up is Pilatus PC12 VH-KWO at Auckland on 28 January 2015 before its flight to Omaka. To the left is Skyline Aviation's Beech King Air ZK-ZZA

This is what it is scheduled to look like

What name for new Whakatane service?



Air Chathams is the Eastern Bay’s new airline although it may not be flying into Whakatane Airport under that name. The airline is keen to give the service a local flavour with Sunshine Airways and Eastern Bay Air suggested as possible names. Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne announced yesterday that Air Chathams had been selected as the preferred provider of scheduled flights between Whakatane and Auckland. Increased capacity, improved passenger comfort and a significant upgrade in freight capabilities were cited as potential outcomes of the proposed new service, due to be introduced at the end of April when the Air New Zealand service ended. Mr Bonne said the proposal would see a locally-branded service provided by Air Chathams, utilising its fleet of 50-seat Convair 580 airliners, pictured below, and 19-seat Metroliner aircraft. “I’m delighted to announce that a replacement service has been offered, which could provide significant potential for growth and a genuine opportunity for the Eastern Bay of Plenty to build a partnership with an airline which is committed to attractively-priced fares and developing travel, accommodation and activity packages which will boost the region’s profile as a short-stay domestic tourism destination,” he said. The announcement follows an extraordinary meeting of the Whakatane District Council yesterday, which confirmed Air Chathams as the preferred service provider for Whakatane-Auckland scheduled flights. The council also approved the extra funding required (subject to Ministry of Transport approval) for the expenditure needed to bring Whakatane Airport up to certification standard for use by the airline’s larger aircraft. Air Chathams managing director Craig Emeny said the company viewed the Whakatane-Auckland service as a great opportunity to expand upon its current scheduled services between the Chatham Islands and Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. “This route has enjoyed solid loadings for many years and, for the most part, the services which have been timed to meet business travellers’ needs have been close to full,” he said. “We intend to offer two return services a day at times which will allow businesspeople to have a full day in the city, and because we can seat 50 people, we’ll be able to more than double passenger numbers at those key service times. “We’re also looking forward to working closely with the council and the local tourism industry to create the sort of packages and publicity needed to put the ‘sunshine capital’ on the map for people looking for weekend escapes.” The airline’s twin-engined, turboprop Convair 580 airliner is fully pressurised and passengers will appreciate its roomy cabin and cabin crew service. Air speed is comparable to the existing Beech 1900 service, so flight times will not change significantly. Air Chathams’ Metroliner may also be used when passenger numbers are lower. The aircraft and its crew will be based at Whakatane Airport. “We’d like to give the service a local flavour and branding,” Mr Emeny said. “Sunshine Airways and Eastern Bay Air are both possibilities, but we’d appreciate the community’s feedback on those, or other suggestions which would capture the magic of the area.” Mr Bonne said the council would continue to work with the Government to ensure that the airport, which was a 50:50 joint-venture with the Ministry of Transport, remained a viable long-term operation. “The airport plays a key role in the region’s transport infrastructure, opening up access to the rest of the country for our 47,000 residents. “It also makes an important contribution to our business sector and our economy and we look forward to seeing that grow over the coming years.” The Air Chathams service is expected to begin on April 29 and the airline intends to have a dedicated website and booking portal operating by the end of February.

Source : Whakatane Beacon

27 January 2015

Air Chathams for Whakatane



It has been confirmed today that Air Chathams will take over flights between Whakatane and Auckland. Increased capacity, improved passenger comfort and a significant upgrade in freight capabilities are potential outcomes of the proposed new air service, to be introduced on the route when Air New Zealand withdraws its scheduled services at the end of April. Whakatane mayor Tony Bonne said the proposal would see a locally-branded service provided by Air Chathams, utilising its fleet of 50-seat Convair 580 airliners and 19-seat Metroliner aircraft. "I'm delighted to announce that a replacement service has been offered, which could provide significant potential for growth and a genuine opportunity for the Eastern Bay of Plenty to build a partnership with an airline which is committed to attractively-priced fares and developing travel, accommodation and activity packages which will boost the region's profile as a short-stay domestic tourism destination," he said. The announcement followed an extraordinary council meeting today, which has confirmed Air Chathams as the preferred service provider for Whakatane-Auckland scheduled flights. The council has also approved the extra funding required (subject to Ministry of Transport approval) for the expenditure needed to bring Whakatane Airport up to certification standard for use by the airline's larger aircraft. Air Chathams managing director, Craig Emeny, said the company viewed the Whakatane to Auckland service as a great opportunity to expand upon its current scheduled services between the Chatham Islands and Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. "This route has enjoyed solid loadings for many years and, for the most part, the services which have been timed to meet business travellers' needs have been close to full," he said. "We intend to offer two return services a day at times which will allow businesspeople to have a full day in the city, and because we can seat 50 people, we'll be able to more than double passenger numbers at those key service times. We're also looking forward to working closely with the council and the local tourism industry to create the sort of packages and publicity needed to put the 'sunshine capital' on the map for people looking for weekend escapes." The airline's twin-engined, turboprop Convair 580 airliner is fully pressurised and passengers will appreciate its roomy cabin and cabin crew service. Air speed is comparable to the existing Beech 1900 service, so flight times will not change significantly. Air Chathams' Metroliner may also be used when passenger numbers are lower. The aircraft and its crew will be based at Whakatane Airport. "We'd like to give the service a local flavour and branding," Mr Emeny said. "Sunshine Airways and Eastern Bay Air are both possibilities, but we'd appreciate the community's feedback on those, or other suggestions which would capture the magic of the area." Mr Bonne said the council would continue to work with the Government to ensure that the airport, which is a 50:50 joint-venture with the Ministry of Transport, remained a viable long-term operation. "The airport plays a key role in the region's transport infrastructure, opening up access to the rest of the country for our 47,000 residents. It also makes an important contribution to our business sector and our economy and we look forward to seeing that grow over the coming years." The Air Chathams service is expected to commence on April 29 and the airline intends to have a dedicated website and booking portal operating by the end of February.

More on the Air Ambulance Proposal



Sounds Air’s proposal to provide an air ambulance service in addition to a scheduled air service between Westport and Wellington is a big plus for Buller, says mayor Garry Howard. Sounds Air will take over Air New Zealand’s Westport to Wellington service in April. It is spending about $6 million buying two nine-seater Pilatus PC12s, formerly owned by Australia’s Royal Flying Doctor Service. It also plans to provide charters and is gearing up for medical transfers. Sounds Air managing director Andrew Crawford said yesterday that the airline planned to buy US$65,000 worth of medical gear so its planes could offer an emergency ambulance service. Mr Howard said the council was “really excited” about the benefits of an air ambulance service to the West Coast. “That’s something that we are encouraging and we will have discussions with the DHB with regard to that. This is really a good thing for the Coast. It certainly is going to assist with Westport and Karamea in particular.” He said his council would also be talking to Sounds Air about additional services at Westport Airport to benefit ratepayers. At present, Air New Zealand covered a number of the services at the airport, such as check-in, and rented the airport terminal “We will be looking at a package where we will be able to combine a number of jobs,” Mr Howard said. Westport Airport would lose about $600 in landing fees a year when Sounds Air took over, he said. The airline would pay less than Air New Zealand because it operated lighter planes, even though it would offer more flights. The fees are set every five years by the Ministry of Transport and won’t be reviewed until 2018. Westport Airport is owned by the Buller District Council and the Ministry of Transport. It made a net deficit of $107,855 for the year to June 30, 2014. The Westport Airport Authority now has accumulated losses of over $1m. Authority chief executive Sonia Cresswell said the airport accounts actually broke even but depreciation pushed them into the red. A change in airline operator might open the way for more income opportunities in future, she said. Sounds Air would pay for any new signage and marketing at the airport. “We anticipate any branding installed by Sounds Air will reflect the excellent standards the Sounds Air business is known for.” Air New Zealand has agreed to gift the council some of its ground handling equipment at the airport. The equipment had a book value of up to $30,000, Ms Cresswell said. The authority had received an excellent response both locally and nationally to the announcement of the new air service and looked forward to the opportunities the service offered the Coast, she said.

Source : Westport News

For photos of the PC-12s in Royal Flying Doctor Service usage see 

26 January 2015

Processes vs Common Sense

Passengers were ordered off a flight to Melbourne after a tradesman left a screwdriver in Christchurch Airport's departure terminal. The passengers, who were boarding when the error was noticed on Saturday afternoon, were sent through security screening checks again. An airport spokewoman said the contractor regularly did maintenance around the terminal, sometimes after hours. When he realised he had misplaced a screwdriver, he "followed the correct processes, which resulted in our standard security processes being initiated", she said. Passengers were taken off the Virgin Airlines flight and sent through the screening process again. The 4pm flight was delayed by one hour and nine minutes. "The passengers were informed we had a security incident and were very understanding," the spokeswoman said. The screwdriver was found in the terminal.


What would common sense say?

Alliance at Manapouri


A private Australian charter company had its inaugural touchdown at Te Anau Airport Manapouri last week. An Alliance Airlines Fokker 50 made its first trip to Fiordland on Tuesday, a training run for staff before tours commence. Alliance Airlines chief operating officer Lee Schofield said they would be conducting the tour twice a week. "Primarily the aircraft is over there for a series of charters for Tauck, a fairly prestigious inbound U.S. tour company." he said. "It is exciting, certainly for us and I daresay for a few of the communities on the route as well." There was potential for New Zealand staff to be recruited once the airline found its feet. and the Fokker 50 would also be available for private charters on its off-days. Mr Schofield said. "There will be some down times and the aircraft will remain in New Zealand for the next four years," he said. "Initially we're crewing from our Australian employees for pilots and flight attendants, but all other services we've contracted New Zealand companies to handle that. Ground handling at Te Anau is all locals." Te Anau Airport Manapouri manager Evan Pearce said the first official tour had touched down on Saturday. They call it the little Fokker," he said. Alliance had remarked at how professional the service on the ground at Manapouri had been. and the potential for further New Zealand staffing as well as private charters was exciting, Mr Pearce said. At this stage they come into Manapouri at about half past five, then they fly directly to Auckland. If we can get the aeroplane to stay overnight that would give more options to locals." Alliance Airlines replaced Air Chathams as the provider contracted with Tauck Tours. a company offering a 10-day package visiting Wellington, Blenheim. Manapouri, Queenstown. Rotorua. and Auckland. Charter inquiries for the Fokker 50 can be directed to charter@ allianceairlines.com.au or by phoning +61 7 3212 1212 

Source : Fiordland Advocate, 22 January 2015

For photos of the Fokker 50 see

25 January 2015

Good Afternoon Gisborne

An overnight trip to Gisborne caught the late Thursday afternoon departures and a couple of unexpected arrivals...

Off to Auckland on 22 January 2014 was Air New Zealand's Bombardier Q300 ZK-NET
As the Q300 taxied and back tracked Air Napier's Piper Seneca headed south with a couple of pax...
and this was followed by Sunair's Cessna 172 ZK-DKK
Air Gisborne's Cessna 172 ZK-DXF was enjoying the sun
Air Napier's second flight, the courier flight to Wairoa and Napier was operated by Piper Seneca ZK-WUG...
...while at the same time Robinson R44 ZK-HOY and...
Cessna 525C Citation ZK-PGA arrived



24 January 2015

Further Info on the Westport Service



Picton-based Sounds Air says it’s spending about $6 million on two aircraft for its new Westport to Wellington air service. The airline and the Buller District Council yesterday confirmed Sounds Air would replace Air New Zealand when the national carrier exits Westport on April 28. Sounds Air and the council have signed a six-year partnership, with rights of renewal and the potential for further flights or destinations. Sounds Air will provide 26 flights a week – six more than Air New Zealand - and a more customer friendly schedule. It will also offer charter flights. Managing director Andrew Crawford told The News Sounds Air was buying two nine-seater pressurised Pilatus PC12 planes - each costing around $3m. The first - a 10-year-old plane previously used by the Australian Royal Flying Doctor Service – would arrive in New Zealand next week to be refitted. “It’s going to have a brand new engine, new prop, new interior, new seats, new carpet and new paint job,” Mr Crawford said. Sounds Air was buying another PC12, also costing around $3m, as a back-up. The airline would employ three extra pilots for its fleet, as well as three ground staff at Westport. The pilots for the Westport service would come from those flying Sounds Air’s existing Cessna Caravan fleet. The planes would be based in Westport and serviced in Blenheim. Safety reassurance Mr Crawford was quick to reassure anyone nervous about flying in a small, single-engine, single-pilot plane. He said Sounds Air flights between Westport and Wellington would be smoother, quieter and faster [40 minutes rather than 50 minutes], than those provided by Air New Zealand’s 19-seat Beech 1900s. The PC12 could provide a smoother ride by flying at higher altitudes of up to 30,000 feet, he said. Safety was not an issue. “We have been flying single-engine planes across Cook Strait since 1986. We’ve done over 150,000 crossings of Cook Strait with single-engine planes. We don’t think it’s any issue whatsoever… “The PC12 has a DC6 engine. It is an amazing piece of equipment – a similar engine to the Beech 1900s, but much quieter.” Sounds Air has had only one serious crash in its 30-year history. In 1996 a Cessna descending through cloud into Picton flew into a mountain, killing all five passengers. Only the pilot survived. Mr Crawford said the new service would be more reliable than Air New Zealand’s. In bad weather, Sounds Air could delay a flight until weather improved because it was flying only one route. Air New Zealand could seldom delay because its planes were required elsewhere. “We don’t expect any great issues with weather… These planes are much better equipped than Air New Zealand aircraft, avionic-wise.” The PC12 carried ample fuel if flights had to be diverted. “We have got enough fuel left to fly to Australia.” He said Sounds Air hadn’t really thought about flight cancellation contingency plans, such as bussing passengers to other airports as Air New Zealand has done. Air New Zealand cancelled 21 flights between Westport and Wellington last year for weather and other reasons. Mr Crawford declined to reveal how many seats the new service would need to sell per flight to make a profit. Nor would he comment on reports the council had guaranteed a minimum number of seat sales. He said talks were continuing. 

Charter work
Mr Crawford is confident of charter opportunities for the new aircraft. He said local businesses that also worked elsewhere in New Zealand had already expressed an interest. Sounds Air planned to buy US$65,000 worth of medical equipment so the aircraft could operate as an air ambulance. Sounds Air would be talking to the West Coast District Health Board and to the Grey District Council about charter work. He had no doubts the new Westport service would be ready to take off on April 28, the day Air New Zealand pulls out. He said the only Civil Aviation approval required was adding the new aircraft to Sounds Air’s operating certificate. “The numbers are there and we are looking forward to providing an excellent service – a better service, if you look at the scheduling, than what’s been provided for some time.” Sounds Air had already received an “amazing amount of support” from Buller people urging it to provide a new service, he said. Bookings for the new service open on Monday. Passengers will pay $199 each way for adults and $179 for children, including a 20kg baggage allowance per person. Air New Zealand’s fares vary according to demand and when bookings are made. For example, flying between Westport and Wellington tomorrow, and returning on Monday, would cost between $229 and $279 one-way. Flying from Westport to Wellington on Friday February 27 would cost between $144 and $249. A return flight on Monday March 2 would cost between $99 and $169.

MP plugs new airline
West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor is a Sounds Air fan. Mr O’Connor was quick to plug Westport’s new airline after yesterday’s announcement Sounds Air would replace Air New Zealand. Mr O’Connor said he had flown Sounds Air several times between Wellington and Nelson and received a “great” service which matched Air New Zealand’s. There was no reason why a smaller plane would provide a less reliable service for Westport than Air New Zealand’s Beech 1900s, he said. The PC12 had instrument flight rating, was pressurised, and the Swiss aircraft was “an outstanding one, world-renowned”. Airlines operating small aircraft often provided a more personal and flexible service and a quicker exit at airports. Mr O’Connor congratulated Sounds Air on its commitment to Westport and Buller. “It’s great to see that a company is prepared to front up with the equipment and a timetable that is very generous in terms of options for the people of Buller and I hope we can generate the numbers that will give them a fair profit and return for their efforts.” He wasn’t aware of possible cost to ratepayers, but said that as long as it was manageable it was justified, given the significance of Buller remaining connected to Wellington and wider New Zealand through an air service.

Source : Westport News

Check out my photos of the Royal Flying Doctor's Pilatus aircraft here... 
http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.co.nz/2014/09/pilatus-paradise.html

23 January 2015

Whakatane's New Air Service???



A small Chatham Islands based airline will now offer daily flights between Auckland and Whakatane. Air Chathams will start twice daily flights at the end of April when Air New Zealand stops servicing that route, along with some other regional services. CEO Craig Emeny says they'll use either a 50 or 18 seater plan - but want to use the bigger plane as much as possible. "It'll depart in the early morning and arrive about 8.00 in Auckland, which will allow businesspeople to carry out their business." CEO Craig Emeny says flights have been limited to 19 seats in the past. "It will allow that part of the Bay of Plenty to have large groups come through, and they certainly want tourism to develop down there." Marlborough-based airline Sounds Air has announced it'll take over the Westport route.



But the Whakatane Beacon says...

No airline decision – yet

Mayor Tony Bonne says his council has yet to decide whether Air Chathams will take over the route to Auckland being abandoned by Air New Zealand in April. Mr Bonne’s comment follows announcements yesterday in various media, including Newstalk ZB, that the company would take over the route. Air Chathams chief executive Craig Emeny has been reported confirming that twice daily flights will start when Air New Zealand stops servicing the route to Auckland. Mr Emeny is reported saying the airline will use either a 50- or 18-seater plane – but prefers to use the bigger planes. Mr Bonne said the council was holding an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday to consider a report about the future of passenger airline services from Whakatane.

Actually Mr Mayor, the Council doesn't have the right to decide which airline serves the town... You can choose to let out terminal space or not but you can't stop an airline operating a service 

22 January 2015

Westport's Reaction



Sounds Air will provide Westport’s new air service after Air New Zealand bails out in April. The Buller District Council and the airline today announced a six-year partnership for the new air service. Pending Civil Aviation approvals, Sounds Air will take over on April 28 – the day Air New Zealand exits. Sounds Air has bought a nine-seater pressurised Pilatus PC12 for the new service. It will fly between Westport and Wellington daily, except Saturdays, offering 26 flights a week compared to Air New Zealand’s 20. Mondays and Fridays – the busiest days of the week - will feature three return flights. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays will provide two return flights. The first flight will leave Westport at 6.15am. The last flight will return at 6.40pm. Air New Zealand flights leave Westport later in the morning and return earlier in the evening – a timetable that hasn’t suited businesspeople in particular. On Sundays, Sounds Air will offer an evening return flight. Air New Zealand currently offers a lunchtime flight. The Sounds Air plane, and its pilots, will be based in Westport. The 40-minute flight – 10 minutes faster than Air New Zealand’s – will cost $199 each way for adults and $179 for children, including a 20kg baggage allowance per person. Unlike Air New Zealand’s prices, Sounds Air’s don’t fluctuate depending on when passengers book. A joint council/Sounds Air statement said the Pilatus was a high-class turbo prop, single-engine passenger plane, supported by renowned Swiss company Pilatus International. “The plane has a proven track record and is currently used extensively in both Australia and America. We are excited to bring it to New Zealand for scheduled services. “It is an excellent fit for both the volume of passengers we have and the weather and terrain in our region. The plane is fully pressurised and features the latest technology and safety measures. Passengers will notice high levels of comfort and low noise.” The statement said the Westport service heralded a new era in air services for the West Coast. “The advantages for Coasters are a schedule which we determine, a guaranteed six-year term with rights of renewal, and the potential to negotiate further flights and/or destinations as demand dictates, all within the security of a long-term partnership. “We are now able to deliver an improved schedule to residents which meets the needs of our business community, alongside options for recreational users.”

Cost to ratepayers?


It appears the service could come at a cost to ratepayers. The News has been told the council has guaranteed a minimum number of seat sales and will have to put up cash if the number falls short. Buller Mayor Garry Howard declined to comment today. “We will be releasing details of how ratepayers are assisting ensuring this service has come about within the next two weeks. It’s fair to say that we have made some obligations but there’s no money being put up front and there’s no subsidy of air fares.” Air New Zealand averaged 12 seats sold on each 19-seat Westport flight, he said. The News has spoken to a number of people who said they would not fly on a single-engine, single pilot, nine-seater plane. Mr Howard is sure the new air service will win them over. “These planes are used by the flying doctor in Australia. There’s 55 of them in operation. Why would the flying doctor use a service that isn’t as safe as possible?” Civil Aviation data showed the incident rates for single-engine planes were equivalent to those for twin-engine aircraft, he said. “It will take away any concerns people have.” At least one of the two other airlines vying for the service had proposed using a 19-seater plane. Mr Howard said the other airlines had put forward some good options, but in each case a Westport service would have had to fit with their other scheduling. The other airlines were only prepared to “give it a try and see what happened” – which could have left Westport in the same position as it faced with Air New Zealand’s withdrawal. “If Air New Zealand can’t operate a 19-seater economically, what makes us think another company can operate a 19-seater economically? “We were after a bigger, longer-term, secure service.” The council had set the current schedule and would be able to change it, because the plane would be based here. The aircraft would also be available for charter work, he said. “This is the start of a process. More flights can be scheduled and further services will be looked at… It’s really exciting what it opens up, not only for Westport but potentially for Karamea.” Sounds Air was in the processing of buying a second Pilatus PC12 as a back-up. Mr Howard said the council would be releasing further “really good news” soon on further benefits of the new service. He and Westport Airport Authority chief executive Sonia Cresswell also acknowledged Air New Zealand’s support during the transition. They said the airline had shared important data and gifted equipment to the Buller council, which will help ensure a seamless transition between the two airlines. Customers will be able to book through the Sounds Air website from Monday, January 26 www.soundsair.com or via free phone 0800 505 005 (New Zealand only) or phone 0064 3520 3080

Source : Westport News, 22 January 2014

21 January 2015

Exciting News for Sounds Air and Westport



The Buller District Council and Sounds Air are delighted to announce their partnership in bringing the West Coast a new airline service following the departure of Air New Zealand in April 2015. The new service utilises a modern pressurised nine seat aircraft – the Pilatus PC12. 





This high class, turbo prop, single engine passenger plane is supported by the renowned Swiss company Pilatus International. The plane has a proven track record and is currently used extensively in both Australia and America. We are excited to bring it to New Zealand for scheduled services. It is an excellent fit for both the volume of passengers we have and the weather and terrain in our region. The plane is fully pressurised and features the latest technology and safety measures. Passengers will notice high levels of comfort and low noise. 

The West Coast is heralding a new era in air service with the Council and Sounds Air combining to bring the Westport based service into being. The advantages for Coasters are a schedule which we determine, a guaranteed six year term with rights of renewal, and the potential to negotiate further flights and/or destinations as demand dictates, all within the security of a long term partnership.
We are now able to deliver an improved schedule to residents which meet the needs of our business community alongside options for recreational users.

Schedule

             

Capacity:

This equates to 26 flights per week – 9 seats per flight.

The internet price is a set price of $199 each way for adults, $179 for children and includes 20kg baggage allowance per person. The anytime online booking system gives customers a sense of security knowing there will be no price fluctuations or hidden additional fees when they choose to fly. Customers will be able to book services through the Sounds Air website from the 26th January 2015.

www.soundsair.com

Or via free phone 0800 505 005 (NZ only), Tel: 64 (0)3 520 3080

Mayor Garry Howard, Sounds Air Managing Director Andrew Crawford and Westport Airport Manager Sonia Cresswell look forward to welcoming the public onto this exciting new service which offers the Buller region security into the future.

Garry Howard and Sonia Cresswell would like to acknowledge the support Air New Zealand has offered over this time of transition, including the sharing of important data and gifting of equipment to the Buller District Council, which will assist in ensuring a seamless transition between the two carriers. 

Source : Sounds Air Press Release

This is an exciting proposal for Westport...  With the Pilatus being Westport-based there is plenty of room for additional flights

Aquatic Visitor

Captured at Auckland on 21 January 2015 was American-registered Lake LA-250 Renegade N8418B.

Though registered in the USA it is a resident of Velit Bay Plantation in Vanuatu. Velit Bay is located on the tropical Vanuatu island of Espiritu Santo less than a half hours drive from the island's international airport and capital, Luganville.




More from Matamata

On Sunday 18 January 2015 I caught a few more aircraft at the Walsh Flying School at Matamata...

Piper Pa28 Cherokee 140 ZK-DNE was visiting Matamata on 18 January 2014
Cessna 152 ZK-EJV was on the line.
Another new one on the line was Cessna 152 ZK-MDS
Also photographed was Tecnam P2006T ZK-MTW which is locally registered.
ZK-RON isn't on the register yet.
and a better shot of Piper Tomahawk ZK-TAW

20 January 2015

Another Classic from Matamata - Erco 415-D Ercoupe

Captured at Matamata on 18 January 2015 was Erco 415-D Ercoupe ZK-EXC. There is an interesting history of the Ercoupe at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ERCO_Ercoupe




Something to watch out for next week...


19 January 2015

Tiger Tiger at Matamata

Tiger Moth ZK-BFF and Tiger Moth ZK-BEC (rear) line up for take off at Matamata on 18 January 2015. The two Tigers from the TIger Moth Club were offering flights to students at the Walsh Memorial Scout Flying School
ZK-BEC


ZK-BFF


18 January 2015

Three from Tauranga

Captured at Tauranga on 18 January 2015 was Cessna P210N Centurian N526CH
Another new one for was Zlin Aviation Savage ZK-KPP taken on 17 January 2015
Enjoying the sun on 17 Janaury 2015 was Sunair Aviation's Cessna 172 ZK-TAB

17 January 2015

On the field at Whakatane

Visiting Whakatane from Auckland on 16 January 2015 was Robinson R44 II ZK-ICG
Eurocopter AS 350B Ecureuil ZK-IIC at the fuel pumps at Whakatane on 16 January 2015
Soon to be a dissappearing site from Whakatane... Eagle Air Beech 1900 ZK-EAD on 17 January 2015
Bell 47G ZK-ICJ was holidaying at Whakatane from Ardmore. Photo taken on 17 January 2015
In the hangar at Whakatane was Cessna 172 ZK-LCL. Photo taken on 17 January 2015
Outside waiting its next customer was BRM Aero Bristell LSA ZK-LMR with a look inside below. Photo taken on 17 January 2015

Thanks to Peter Rutledge for a go on Aero Hire's flight simulator... Take off from the Golden Gate , steep bank and drop under the bredge before landing back on the bridge in a Tiger Moth.... www.aerohire.co.nz for a go in the plane or simulator
Heading home to its hangar after refuelling was Aviat A-1C-180 ZK-TWA. Photo taken on 17 January 2015