New Zealand’s Air Chathams to end Convair ops
IFA Comment: Ever wondered how long an aircraft remains in service? It’s almost the aviation equivalent to the question: how long is a piece of string? One thing is for sure, and COVID-19 has accelerated the pace, younger and younger aircraft are getting retired. Nevertheless, some aircraft types seem to go on and on. The hardy, and reliable ones, often adapted to special uses only fade away when a good alternative comes along. Commercial airlines take many shapes and forms. Certainly, older aircraft types can be maintained and operated safely with the right knowledge and experience.
Air Chathams (3C, Chatham Island) has continued to deploy its sole remaining Convair CV-580 on domestic New Zealand cargo runs after having withdrawn the type from scheduled passenger service in July this year.
The New Zealand Herald initially reported that the carrier’s last aircraft of the type, ZK-CIB (msn 327A), would be permanently retired on July 29. However, the last scheduled flight from Chatham Island to Wellington took place six days earlier. Air Chathams has since deployed it between Auckland Int’l, Christchurch, and Wellington on non-scheduled cargo flights, Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows.
Chief Operating Officer Duane Emeny told ch-aviation that the aircraft would be retired in earnest on September 17, 2021.
“The recent lockdown in New Zealand has seen demand for Convair flights to connect South Island freight to Auckland for international connections,” Emeny said.
Last year, the airline said ZK-CIB was due for an annual maintenance inspection in September 2021, which would be the limiting factor due to the high cost associated with the checks. Air Chathams has retired its two other CV-580s over the last few months namely ZK-KFL (msn 372) in October 2020 and ZK-CIE (msn 399) in April 2021.
The carrier acquired an ex-Mount Cook Airline ATR72-500 to operate its services from Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch to Chatham Island following the retirement of the last CV-580s. Its fleet also comprises two S340A(QC)s, one S340B, three Metroliners, one Cessna (single piston) C206, and a DC-3. Due to the current lockdown in New Zealand, the airline’s active network is limited to cargo charters and essential flights to Chatham Island.