A Maori trust in Nelson is planning to establish a passenger charter airline using two 18-seat turboprop aircraft that were previously with Origin Pacific Airways, a New Zealand regional carrier that folded in September.

Ngati Koata Trust, the trust that manages the assets of the local Maori tribe based in Nelson, has applied to the New Zealand CAA for an air operator’s certificate and aims to launch passenger charter operation in 3-4 months, says Caron Paul, the CEO of the trust in Nelson, who will also be the airline’s acting CEO.

“We are starting off small and getting into the aviation industry in a conservative manner,” says Paul, adding that the trust wanted to launch an airline because it could see “in Nelson there are a lot of opportunities for freighter and [passenger] charters”.

Paul declines to say what the airline will be called “until we are closer to getting certification”.

She says the trust is leasing two BAE Systems Jetstream 31 aircraft from Robert Inglis, who was managing director and the major owner of Origin Pacific, a regional airline based in Nelson that shut in September after incurring losses.

The Jetstream 31 passenger aircraft were previously used by Origin Pacific and are now at Nelson Airport undergoing maintenance.

Paul says the new airline will start by offering passenger charters and will later launch freighter operations and this later expansion might require the airline to get dedicated freighters.

She says there is demand for freight services from Nelson to New Zealand’s north island, especially in terms of perishable goods such as fresh flowers as well as live and chilled seafood.

Ngati Koata Trust has other commercial businesses such as a ship repair yard, furniture manufacturing company and finance company.

The trust works to benefit about 5,000 people who are part of a Maori tribe in New Zealand’s south island city of Nelson.

Source: FlightGlobal.com