The 737 fleet was expanded into the early 1970s with second-hand examples added. These included a 'new' series 297 (ZK-NAJ) originally built for Aloha Airlines but not taken up in July 1971, a pair of ex-PSA series 214s in 73/74 (ZK-NAK/NAL) and a series 222 (ZK-NAM). The latter was a 1968 build machine that had been a test aircraft with Boeing its whole life until then. With 7 737s in the fleet the last Vickers Viscounts were retired on June 3, 1975.
Air New Zealand received two NAC ordered series 219s in 1978 and 1980 (ZK-NAR and NAS) and a 219 Combi (ZK-NQC) in December 1982. By then the original 737 fleet was getting old with the surviving original 6 aircraft (one was sold in 1981) dating from 1968/69 and not being Advanced models.
Air New Zealand took advantage of the transition by Boeing to the newer series 737-300 and no doubt got a late 1984 order for 6 737-200 Advanceds at a good price. These aircraft, ZK-NAT-Y arrived in 1986 and allowed the sale of all the non-Advanced aircraft to International Lease Finance Corp (ILFC). These aircraft would be almost immediately on-leased to Presidential Airways (3), AirCal (2) and Frontier Airlines (1). At least one would serve to 2005. The new 737s reused the Maori names beginning with P of their predecessors.
The series 200s in Air New Zealand service allowed the airline the flexibility to right-size traffic on some of its international routes, especially to Pacific island destinations, as well as being the mainstays of the trunk domestic routes. Decisions to purchase newer 737-300s were deferred several times and these aircraft didn't finally arrive until 1999. Instead Air New Zealand actually expanded its 737-200 fleet acquiring second-hand aircraft formerly operated by Royal Brunei, Braathens S.A.F.E as well as trios from Britannia and Air Malta.
Overall Air New Zealand operated 30 737-200s through the years though one was the early ZK-NAQ operated only for 6 months. 3 others were short term leases brought in as maintenance covers from airlines like Airways International Cymru and Britannia. Another was an ex-Ansett NZ aircraft operated for only a couple of months. In terms of the registrations of the aircraft the ZK-NA* sequence continued fitting the NAC ancestry and filling in holes in the existing sequence. Several aircraft reused registrations of already sold frames so for example there have been two ZK-NADs and NAQs.
The last service operated by an Air New Zealand 737-200 fell to ZK-NAB "Nuts and Bolts" as NZ509 between Auckland and Christchurch in December 2001. Most of the series 219 Advanceds found there way to AVIACSA of Mexico whilst aircraft of the other marks went to airlines such as ADC of Nigeria and Jatayu Air of Indonesia. The Combi NQC stayed local and joined the Airworks fleet whilst ZK-NAF joined Royal Tongan Airlines on lease from NZ in May 1999. Air New Zealand would base its future fleet around the 737-300, however their time would not be as long as the series 200s.
Note: It should be also noted that Ansett New Zealand also operated 737-100s and 200s but they are out of the scope of this piece.
Timetables images from the superlative timetableimages.com
Kiwi Aircraft Images - 737
Air New Zealand 737-200 fleet. RZJets.net
NZ509 AKL-CHC - Last Air NZ 737-200 Flight. Airliners.net
MacPherson, R. Airways 1936-1986 The First 50 Years
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: