|Company slogan||Be everywhere, do everything, together never failing to impress our customer|
|Parent company||Air New Zealand (100%)|
|Headquarters||Hamilton, New Zealand|
|Key people||Carrie Hurihanganui
Eagle Airways is a regional airline based in Hamilton, New Zealand with ten crew bases from Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands to Blenheim in the Marlborough region. It is wholly owned by Air New Zealand and operates regional services under the Air New Zealand Link brand. In addition to the seven crew bases the airline has hubs at Auckland Airport, Christchurch International Airport and Wellington International Airport.
The airline was established and 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 (NAC). 1976 saw the introduction of 9-seat Piper Chieftain aircraft. During 1979, Eagle moved into turbine operations with Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante aircraft and later, Fairchild Metro aircraft.
Air New Zealand's 19-seat operator
A fleet upgrade beginning in 2001 has seen the wholesale adoption of the Beechcraft 1900D Airliner 19-seat aircraft of which 16 were ordered. ZK-EAP (MSN: UE-439) was the last 1900-series aircraft to be produced by Raytheon, closing the production line in October 2002.
In 2006, route development and increased air travellers market saw the need for a 17th aircraft, and in 2007 ZK-EAQ came on line as the 17th Beech 1900D for Eagle. Wanaka was added to the network as a result.
On 22 July 2008, Eagle Airways welcomed its 18th 1900D, creating more depth to the airline's fleet. Eagle pioneered new routes with the additional aircraft, with flights between Masterton and Auckland commencing in February 2009; and service between Christchurch and Westport, launched in July 2009. Due to the continuing downturn in passenger levels, parent company Air New Zealand ceased Eagle's expansion plans. In January 2009, a 19th aircraft was announced to arrive towards the end of that year. This aircraft was to allow a lesser reliance on charter aircraft used on some of the new pioneer routes, while allowing a 'branded' Air New Zealand aircraft to promote the airline.
New routes, such as Christchurch – Te Anau, and Hokitika – Wellington were mooted for the airline's continued expansion plans, however the economic downture of the Global Financial Crisis has had a dramatic effect on air travel around New Zealand. Some of the lesser-performing routes were placed under review. The Oamaru – Christchurch route and the Westport - Christchurch route was suspended as a result in late 2009. While low numbers on the Wanaka – Christchurch route resulted in services ending in January 2013.
Another pioneering route originally proposed for Eagle was Auckland – Paraparaumu, however parent company Air New Zealand handed this over to fellow subsidiary Air Nelson, as its larger aircraft were soon found to be best suited for this new service.
Service and maintenance issues
A sudden surge in flight cancellations to minor centres has brought the airline some negative publicity over the last six months ending May 2012. Airline manager Carrie Hurihanganui said sudden FAA and CAA enforced directives regarding the 1900D type have been unavoidable and the airline understands the frustrations of local communities that rely on Eagle Airways to deliver. Frequent cancellations to the town of Westport have forced  the mayor of the town to formally complain to parent company, Air New Zealand, to address this issue. Other small towns such as Masterton and Wanaka have also raised concerns about rescheduling of flights without prior notice by Eagle Airways. Also public opinion believes the 1900D is now considered too unreliable as a type for the harsher New Zealand weather conditions with frequent cancellations due to maintenance issues.
The entire 1900D fleet was grounded on the 7 August 2012 after hairline cracks were found in the tail area of an aircraft during routine maintenance inspection, again highlighting the unreliability of this type. This grounding caused widespread travel chaos across the smaller centres. Initially four aircraft out of the eighteen were cleared to fly, and a week later seven were still grounded. Disruption continued until 16 September. Vincent Aviation provided two Jetstream 32 airliners to Eagle Airways for the duration, a move that has helped maintain some passenger schedules.
The Eagle Airways fleet includes the following aircraft (at April 2013):
|Beechcraft 1900D||18||0||19||ZK-EAG and ZK-EAK are in special All Blacks livery|
Eagle Airways operates the following domestic services:
- From Auckland to:
- From Christchurch to:
- From Hamilton to:
- From Palmerston North to:
- From Wellington to:
Although by global standards still a young fleet, the Beechcraft 1900D type is now considered mid-life by Air New Zealand's fleet management. As mentioned above, a sudden surge in early 2012 of flight cancellations and awkward rescheduling due to maintenance issues are having a negative impact with the flying public. There are very few options in the 19 to 30 seat aircraft category to replace the 1900D and its high performance levels. Raytheon said it will continue to support the type as the aircraft is still very much in use globally. It has also said that re-introducing the line is a possibility if strong demand allows for it.
Incidents and accidents
- On 18 June 2007, Beechcraft 1900D ZK-EAK belonging to Eagle Airways was forced to make an emergency landing at Woodbourne Airport in Blenheim after the landing gear failed to lower. The aircraft was flying from Timaru to Wellington and landed at Woodbourne because there was less air traffic at Woodbourne. Nobody on board was injured, and the aircraft only suffered minor damage.
- On 25 September 2007, a defective undercarriage found during a routine inspection of another 1900D led to the cancellation of 60 flights the following day as the airline's entire fleet was grounded for ultrasound inspection and replacement of defective components.
- On 8 February 2008, the two pilots of Eagle Airways Flight 2279 from Blenheim to Christchurch were stabbed in a hijacking attempt. The pilots survived the attack and landed safely at Christchurch International Airport. A 33-year old woman was arrested in the case.
- On 7 August 2012, the entire fleet was grounded again, this time over the discovery of hairline cracks in the tail area of an aircraft during a routine maintenance inspection leading to hundreds of flight cancellations.
- On 2 November 2013 Eagle Airways 2067 a Jetstream 32 aircraft (operated by Vincent Aviation on behalf of Eagle Airways) from Auckland to Taupo aborted take off at Auckland. There were 14 passengers and 2 pilots aboard. No one was hurt during the accident. The airport was closed and flights were diverted.
- Not an ICAO allocation - issued for domestic use by the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand
- "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 2007-04-03. p. 75.
- "Wairarapa flights set for takeoff". The Dominion Post. 11 September 2007. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
- Aviation News, April 2010.
- Waikato Times May 2012
- Wesport News - March 2012, Mayor angry and Air NZ. 3RD Level NZ, News March 2012 - Cancellations Upset Locals
- Cracks ground Air New Zealand planes http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/7431795/Cracks-ground-Air-New-Zealand-planes
- Seven Eagle Air planes still grounded http://www.3news.co.nz/Seven-Eagle-Air-planes-still-grounded/tabid/421/articleID/265269/Default.aspx
- Disruptions continue on Eagle Air flights http://www.stuff.co.nz/marlborough-express/news/7480497/Disruptions-continue-on-Eagle-Air-flights
- "Our destinations". Eagle Airways. Retrieved 2013-03-07.
- Booker, Jarrod (26 September 2007). "Fault grounds NZ airline fleet". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2010-03-18.
- Booker, Jarrod; Gay, Edward (8 February 2008). "Knife-wielding hijacker demanded to be flown to Australia". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2010-03-18.