Qantas New Zealand stops flying


New Zealand’s Tasman Pacific Airlines, which operates as Qantas New Zealand, ceased flying late on Friday, 20 April, and was placed in receivership early the following morning. The airline’s fleet, including its eight BAe 146-300s, have been parked. The owners of the financially-troubled airline had been negotiating to sell it to Qantas. Had the sale occurred, Qantas was expected to replace Tasman Pacific’s 146s with Boeing 737s so as to combine domestic New Zealand flying with trans-Tasman flights to Australia. Ultimately, however, Qantas balked at the asking price, which included the assumption of considerable debt. Australian low-cost carriers Impulse and Virgin Blue were also approached, but nothing came of these talks either. Tasman Pacific was formed in 1987 as Ansett New Zealand. The airline ordered seven BAe 146s in 1989 to replace its Boeing 737s. In 1996, Ansett New Zealand was sold to the News Corporation Ltd. Cost-cutting moves led to labor strife that all but grounded the airline in September 1999 after pilots refused to sign a new contract offered by management. The pilots eventually gave in, allowing services to resume in November, but not before the airline had lost considerable market share. The airline was later acquired by a group of New Zealand investors, who arranged the franchise agreement with Qantas. The Qantas New Zealand name was adopted in June 2000. Despite the boost given by the Qantas brand, the airline’s financial troubles continued. Tasman Pacific was apparently forced into receivership when Wellington Airport demanded immediate payment of two months’ in landing fees.

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