Newmans appears to have had big plans for its airline with a future of jet service on the trunk routes and the Dash 7s moved to feeder services. The Dash 7 was a reliable and capable airplane but not particularly cheap to operate and relatively complex. Faced with competition from Mount Cook's HS 748s and long history of service Newman's airline was not a financial success. Liberalisation of the aviation sector by the then Labour government opened up a pathway for new investment into the startup. Accordingly in 1986 Newmans Air was reorganised as Ansett Newmans when new backers were found in the form of a NZ investment company, Brierley Investments (27.5%), and Ansett Australia's parent ATI (50%).
Ansett Newmans had a lot more clout than its predecessor and the Dash 7s were replaced with cheaper to operate and more efficient smaller 40 seater DHC-8-102s in late 1986/early 1987. This would be just the beginning however as with the increased investment and access to Ansett's resources jets could be put into service, which would provide real competition, not with Mount Cook alone, but with the national carrier also. This was bolstered even further when on July 25, 1987 Ansett bought out the other shareholders and Ansett New Zealand was born.
The 737 fleet increased with the addition of a fourth 737-130 in July 1987 and a pair of 737-200s in June and July 1988. The 737-100/200s had never been intended to operate in the long term and the original intention was for them to be replaced with new 737-500s. Ansett's takeover changed these plans and the 737-500s were cancelled and replaced with aircraft from Ansett's large order for British Aerospace 146s.
The BAE 146s gave Ansett New Zealand a homogenous modern jet fleet for the first time and would provide the airline's competitive edge into the 2000s. In part 2 we'll investigate Ansett New Zealand in the 1990s.
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: