I distinctly recall when I was spotting away at WLG on this occasion that a fellow said to me: 'I didn't think NZ had plane spotters' to which my response of 'I'm English' made him smile. It was a very pleasant couple of days and I'm only annoyed that I didn't have a digital camera at the time.
Obviously the primary operator at Wellington was, and remains, Air New Zealand. In 2002 the 737-200s were long gone but the A320s had yet to arrive and so it was Pacific Wave 737-300s all the way. These aircraft haven't really been gone long enough to be missed yet but I guess there'll come a day when they seem nostalgic. At the time I hadn't ever flown one but between 2006 and 2014 I'd fly on a good chunk of the fleet.
Air New Zealand was at the time still operating its leisure subsidiary Freedom Air, which it had used to successfully kill of Kiwi International. Here's ZK-SJB who'd later join the main NZ fleet:
The other major domestic player was JetConnect operating their 737-300s in Qantas colours. They have of course since been replaced by Jetstar A320s. Here's VH-CZS which would become ZK-CZS in October 2002:
On the international front there were still direct Qantas flights and they even used widebodies. Here's VH-OGL a 767-300 on her departure:
The highlight of the visit for me however were services to two island groups. To the east of NZ lies the Chathams and ZK-CIB one of their trusty CV-580s paid a visit. This aircraft was still going strong in 2013:
The other islands visitor was a colourful surprise as it was Polynesian Airlines 737-800 5W-SAO. This was a lovely scheme and it was sad when they sold out to Virgin Blue and Polynesian Blue was formed. I was never taken by the rather ugly Virgin Blue colours:
I apologise for the poor quality of the photos - my later shots with a digital are much better and will probably see the light of day on here at some point but the traffic after 2005 isn't quite as interesting.
I'm Richard Stretton, an aviation enthusiast and major collector of 400 scale model aircraft. This blog discusses ongoing events in the world of 400 scale.
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