New Zealand’s Eagle Airways disbanded

Eagle Airways has concluded operations following its last commercial flight, from Wellington to Hamilton via Palmerston North, on August 26.

On 11 November 2014, Air New Zealand CEO, Christopher Luxon announced that, after a twelve-month operational performance review, all flying operations by Eagle Airways and its 19-seat fleet were to be shut down over a 20-month period beginning immediately, citing the unsustainable operating costs per seat of small aircraft and a growing demand for cheaper seats on regional services.

Eagle Airways staff have been transferred to fellow Air New Zealand subsidiaries Air Nelson and Mount Cook Airline.

Eagle Airways started operations in 1969. It grew out of the Eagle Flying Academy owned and operated by Malcom Campbell and John Fairclough. In 1973, it became a commercial airline flying routes around the North Island of New Zealand using twin-engined Beechcraft Baron aircraft, capitalising on provincial routes not serviced by the national airline of the time, National Airways Corporation.

A fleet upgrade beginning in 2001 has seen the wholesale adoption of the Beechcraft 1900D Airliner 19-seat aircraft of which 16 were ordered.

Due to the continuing downturn in passenger levels, parent company Air New Zealand ceased Eagle’s expansion plans, while the airline was sustaining an average loss of NZ$1 million per month.

The airline planed to use the larger Q300 aircraft from Air Nelson on Eagle’s more sustainable routes while dropping services to the smaller towns of Kaitaia, Westport and Whakatane altogether, along with the Hamilton – Auckland feeder route in February 2016.

(Image under CC BY-SA 3.0)

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