Air New Zealand to operate BAe 146s

Air New Zealand has announced plans to operate at least four of the eight BAe 146-300s formerly operated by bankrupt Tasman Pacific Airlines as Qantas New Zealand. Air New Zealand will use the 146s to boost domestic services on routes from Auckland to Queenstown and from Christchurch to Rotorua and Queenstown. Tasman Pacific had been leasing the aircraft from Air New Zealand, an arrangement which dated from its origins as Ansett New Zealand. News Corp, which owned both Ansett Australia and Ansett NZ at the time, leased the 146s to the New Zealand airline. The expensive arrangement is widely thought to have been a way for News Corp to funnel profits out of its subsidiary, and to have played an important role in Tasman Pacific’s eventual demise. Air New Zealand acquired title to the aircraft when it bought Ansett Australia from News Corp. Ansett NZ remained separate, and was later sold to a local consortium, who changed its name to Tasman Pacific and began operating as a Qantas franchise in September 2000. Air New Zealand repossessed the 146s soon after Tasman Pacific was placed in receivership and ceased flying, on 20 April. It had to fight a court battle, however, to secure the maintenance records and spare parts. Air New Zealand had been expected to send the 146s across the Tasman Sea to Ansett Australia, joining the twelve 146s already operated by the Australian airline. The four 146s will be operated on Air New Zealand’s behalf by subsidiary Mount Cook Airline.

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