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75 years on, first flight still fascinates

IT was an exciting adventure for a child aged 4.

John McDougall, and his parents Jack and Henrietta, were among the first paying passengers on the Union Airways of NZ Ltd first commercial flight out of Invercargill Airport.

Today marked 75 years of that event… November 7, 1944.

Not that you could call it much of an airport back then, he said.

“It was a gravel road to the airport…”

There were two army huts and a grass runway, or as the newspaper of the day described it… “the plane touched down on the green sward of the Invercargill airport”.

“The sides of the path were wooden, full of stones… I remember walking on the wash stones from the Oreti… it wasn’t easy for a 4-year-old.”

It was during the war years, so to see a plane, especially of that size in Invercargill was enormous, because almost everything else was overseas, he said.

“It was the first time I had seen a big plane… it was a big bird.”

In a newspaper article to mark the 50th anniversary in 1994, Mrs McDougall said “We were both anxious (John and I). We took John along so he could be the youngest person to fly and he was just old enough to remember it.”

Mr McDougall said he remembered being picked up from the Union Steamship office in The Crescent, next to the former Wright Stephenson & Co office, and taken by a Southland Daily News Bus “side loader” to the airport.

“When you are a 4-year-old, these things stand out,” he said.

Dignitaries of the day were given a free flight the day before.

The deputy mayor, Mr W Aitchison, was quoted in the paper of the day as saying, “This is something we have been looking forward to for years” and “he envisaged the day when aircraft would be landing in Invercargill after completing flights from Australia”.

As well as the pilot and co-pilot, the silver two-engined Lockheed Electra carried 10 passengers, each with a window seat.

Mr McDougall remembered the flight vividly.

“We had a beautiful view of all the farmlands… they didn’t fly so high in those days…

“We could really count the cows and everything.”

The “runway” at Taieri was also a grass strip, he said.

Then the family had the excitement of staying in a hotel in Dunedin… “three stories up”.

He remembered the lights in Dunedin as there were no restrictions, although it was wartime, and the old tram cars.

Jack Kitson, from Invercargill, also came along with the family, Mr McDougall said.

“Dad and Mr Kitson were a bit late getting back after a night out on the town and were locked out and had to climb up the fire escape.

“Mum and I were the only two who went to breakfast in the hotel the next day.”

Mr McDougall and his parents flew back to Invercargill the following day.

All the excitement was a bit much for a small child… having to use the sick bag on way home after “eating too many lollies”.

Clocking up a number of local aviation firsts, Mr McDougall, his wife, Margaret, and their family, also flew on the first direct international flight from Invercargill to Melbourne in 2015 through House of Travel Lakers Invercargill.

“I was always living for the first international flight out of Invercargill… which I did a few years ago.”

As for the old Lockheed Electra plane, it now resides in the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland, Mr McDougall said.

Southland Express

New directors on Invercargill City Council controlled companies

The Invercargill City Council’s holding company, Holdco – an investment company owned by the council on behalf of ratepayers – has announced the appointment of new directors on both Holdco and one if its subsidiary companies, Invercargill Airport Limited.

Peter Carnahan and John Schol have been appointed as directors on Holdco and Grant Lilly has been appointed chair of Invercargill Airport Limited.

Lilly, who has an extensive background in the aviation and tourism industries, has just completed terms as a board member on the Queenstown Airport Corporation and Civil Aviation Authority and Aviation Security Service.

He also has previous experience in management roles within airlines and tourism operations generally.

The board of Holdco issued a statement saying Lilly was well placed to guide Invercargill Airport Limited as it seeks to take advantage of the opportunities available as a result of strong relationships developed by previous chairman Tommy Foggo.

The statement says Carnahan has a broad range of board and senior management experience that will be of assistance to Holdco, while Schol is the chief executive officer of Malloch McClean and will “add to the breadth of the board capacity”.

The new three-year term of the city council marks the end of city councillors holding directorships on both Holdco and its subsidiary companies.

The change came about after councillor Ian Pottinger, in May, successfully tabled a motion that councillors not be included as directors on Holdco or its subsidiaries.

Holdco general manager Andrew Cameron said the council’s previous stance was that it was mandatory for city councillors to be directors on Holdco and optional for city councillors to be directors on the subsidiary companies.

The Southland Times

Southland on show ahead of first ever direct Invercargill-Auckland jet service

Media release – Air New Zealand

20 June 2019

Southland on show ahead of first ever direct Invercargill-Auckland jet service

Air New Zealand has today launched a southern inspired campaign ahead of the airline’s first ever direct scheduled jet service between Auckland and Invercargill which gets underway at the end of August.

The month-long campaign ‘Find yourself speechless in Southland’ has been developed in partnership with key Southland stakeholders and will focus on travellers to and from Invercargill and the wider Southland region.

It will showcase all that’s on offer in Southland – from food and local experiences to adventures in Milford Sound and Stewart Island along with stunning imagery of the city and beyond.  Locally the campaign in Southland will promote Auckland as being only a cookie, coffee and magazine read away.

The campaign will feature in press, radio, outdoor advertising and through digital channels.

Air New Zealand General Manager Market Development and Retail Sales Annabelle Fowler says the campaign is all about encouraging people to get behind the direct jet service.

“There are some fantastic experiences in Southland, and we’re excited to share these through this new campaign ahead of our new direct service to Invercargill which gets underway in just two months’ time.

“Equally the Southland community has told us a direct service to Auckland is important to them and we look forward to locals supporting the direct A320 jet service.”

Southland Regional Development Agency interim Chief Executive Ann Lockhart credited the passionate work of Venture Southland and key Southland stakeholders in helping to lay the groundwork for the direct flight being established.

“This is a great result for the Southland region, and we’re excited for the many opportunities it will provide to our businesses, residents and future visitors – visiting what we consider to be the best region in New Zealand has now been made even easier.”

With a flight time of approximately two hours, the new Invercargill-Auckland service will be the longest domestic Air New Zealand flight.  The first scheduled Auckland-Invercargill service will depart on 25 August 2019 and the first Invercargill-Auckland flight will be on 26 August 2019.

Air New Zealand’s schedule for its direct Invercargill-Auckland service, operated by its A320 jet aircraft, is as follows:

Flight Number Departs Arrives Days of week Aircraft type
NZ698 Invercargill 6:00am Auckland 7:55am Mon/Tues/Thur/Fri/Sat* A320
NZ699 Auckland 7:35pm Invercargill 9:35pm Mon/Wed/Thurs/Fri/Sun A320

*The NZ698 Invercargill-Auckland Saturday service will depart at 9:15am, arriving in Auckland at 11:10am

Jet Service is coming to Invercargill

In December 2018 Invercargill Airport Limited and Air New Zealand announced the introduction of a direct jet service between Invercargill and Auckland. The flight will be the longest direct flight in New Zealand with a travel time of 2 hours, and will open up exciting opportunities for business and recreational travellers into and out of the Southland province. Not only will this service open Southland to the World, but also the World to Southland.

To make this a reality some changes need to be made to the airport, and to how passengers check in and board their flight. These changes will occur over the next 3 months in preparation for the first flight on the 25th August 2019. We have called this the ‘Jet Project’.

The ‘Jet Project’

In order for an Air New Zealand A320 Jet to safely land, stand and depart the Invercargill Airport with passengers, several things have to happen:

  • Aircraft Parking

We need to provide a hardstand area capable of taking a much larger aircraft than what currently lands at our airport. The layout of the ‘apron’, the line markings and the aeroplane parking will be upgraded to support this new aircraft.

  • New baggage screening area

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) requires that any aircraft with more than 90 seats must have baggage screening at check in.  A purpose-built baggage screening facility will be built adjacent to the current Air New Zealand Check In area. This will allow bags to be x-rayed, searched if required, and loaded onto the aircraft.

  • Secure Passenger Departure Lounge

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) requires that passengers and hand luggage on any aircraft with more than 90 seats must be security screened prior to departure.  The Terminal’s current meeting and training rooms will be converted into the new screening area and a secure departure lounge.

 What to expect during construction?

There should be minimal disruption to the public using the terminal during the construction phase. Hoardings will separate the public from any construction areas. You will still be able to access all areas of the airport terminal as normal, however we will no longer have the meeting rooms available for bookings. Access to the Air New Zealand Regional Lounge and the Invercargill Airport Office will remain the same.

For more information go to Invercargill Airport Jet Project

Request for Proposal – Invercargill Airport Guest Services

Invercargill Airport Limited (IAL) is the aviation gateway to Invercargill City and the Southland region. It is situated approximately 10 minutes’ drive from the Invercargill CBD. Several aviation related companies and businesses use or are operated from the airport.  In 2011, a project was started to replace the Invercargill Airport terminal building. This project is now complete, and the new terminal is in operation.

IAL is on the journey to ensure that guests who use the terminal building have a first-class experience. Having guest services that are professional and friendly is extremely important not only to the smooth operation of the terminal, but to the reputation of the Airport.

Attached is a request for proposal of providing Guest Services for Invercargill Airport

Request For Proposal for Guest Services

Rental Car Park Unavailable from Monday 23 April 2018

Due to resealing, the rental car park will not be available from 8.00am Monday 23 April through to end of day Thursday 26 April.

During this time rental cars will have designated parking areas in the main car park. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the airport administration office 03 2186 920 or your rental car company.