australian aviation logo

Air Chathams commences nonstop Auckland-Norfolk Island flights

written by australianaviation.com.au | September 9, 2019

A file image of an Air Chathams Convair 580. (Air Chathams)
A file image of an Air Chathams Convair 580. (Air Chathams)

New Zealand regional carrier Air Chathams has commenced once weekly scheduled passenger flights between Auckland and the Australian territory of Norfolk Island.

The inaugural flight took off from Auckland at about 0915 local time on Friday and landed a little over two hours later. The return flight departed Norfolk Island in the afternoon.

Air Chathams owner and chief executive Craig Emeny was the Captain of the flight, while his son Duane Emeny, the airline’s general manager, was the first officer.

“Re-connecting Norfolk Island with Auckland fits appropriately with our core values to ensure isolated communities are provided safe, reliable air services to promote growth and connectivity,” Duane Emeny said in a statement.

Further, Duane Emeny said the Norfolk Island route was the “first time our family airline has marketed and operated a scheduled international service under the Air Chathams banner”.


Air Chathams is flying Convair 580 turboprops on route. The airline’s website stated it had two Convair 580s configured with 50 seats, one “combi” variant and one full freighter aircraft.

The new flight restores a nonstop link between New Zealand and Norfolk Island that was lost in 2018, when Norfolk Island Airlines ended a short-lived operation on the route.

Air Chathams said the performance of its charter flights to Norfolk Island over the past two years has given it the confidence to launch regularly scheduled passenger services.

Further, it was working with Norfolk Island Tourism and Norfolk Island Regional Council to promote the new route. The island was located about 900nm off Australia’s east coast in the Pacific Ocean.

“We are really excited to re-establish the direct link between Auckland and Norfolk Island and we are really encouraged by the early interest we’ve had from passengers, with forward bookings indicating it’s going to be another successful route for our family airline,” Duane Emeny said.

A file image of an Air Chathams Convair 580. (Air Chathams)
A file image of an Air Chathams Convair 580. (Air Chathams)

Previously, Air New Zealand had nonstop flights between Auckland and Norfolk Island. However, the service was cancelled in May 2017 due to what the airline said was declining passenger demand that made the flight commercially unsustainable.

It maintains a twice weekly service from Norfolk Island to both Brisbane and Sydney with Airbus A320 equipment. Australia’s Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development pays Air New Zealand a subsidy to fly to Norfolk Island.

In June 2017, Norfolk Island Airlines started a once weekly Brisbane-Norfolk Island-Auckland service with a Boeing 737-300 leased from Nauru Airlines.

However, the Auckland leg was dropped in January 2018, with the route cancelled altogether in March of the same year.

Auckland Airport general manager Scott Tasker welcomed the return on nonstop flights between Auckland and Norfolk Island.

“With a flight time of just over two hours, the direct flight will enable travellers to experience a pristine tourism destination and provide freight opportunities for locals, with the new year-round service offering over 5,000 seats on the route per year,” Tasker said.

“Since Air Chathams began regular mainland New Zealand services in 2015, it has seen rapid growth, now flying to eight destinations and carrying over 100,000 people per year.

“We look forward to seeing Air Chathams continue to grow and provide the much-valued service of linking New Zealand communities, and now Norfolk Island, together.”

Norfolk Island was formerly a self-governing Australian territory, with locally elected representatives managing its local affairs.

However, in 2015 Canberra brought in sweeping changes that resulted in reduced autonomy, with the Legislative Assembly shut down and replaced by a regional council. Also, New South Wales provides some state level services.


You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member today!

Comments (6)

  • Chris


    Air Chathams is becoming New Zealand’s major 2nd level regional airline and works closely with Air New Zealand. Besides operating domestic regional services within New Zealand, it also operates passenger and freight services between New Zealand and the isolated Chatham Islands, located east of New Zealand, using the Convairs.

  • AlanH


    Long way over water in such an old aircraft albeit with turboprop conversion. Still, they have proved themselves on the Chatham Islands route.

    • Russell M


      Air Nauru used to fly “old” Boeing 727’s over water. It’s a beautiful aircraft and I’m considering a “same day return” flight as a treat, just to add one more type to my list of aircraft I’ve flown in for commercial sectors.

      I’d probably prefer this to a Navajo from out to Lord Howe Island or something similar.

  • Ben


    I remember my one and only holiday to Norfolk Island 12 years ago. Back when Air New Zealand were operating an A320 there and Norfolk air had it’s short-lived 737-200 service to the Australian mainland. It was pretty hard to avoid seeing the airport and I took every opportunity to do some plane spotting, every time I had a view of it. This new service would be a fantastic opportunity to spot a classic aircraft. Jet services have always had limited success. I’m wondering if a direct turboprop service would work from Australia? Sydney to Norfolk Island is just within the range limits of the Q400 if QFlink ever became interested. Although not sure of the operational requirements of needing enough fuel to a suitable diversion airfield. Lord Howe can’t take Q400s and Norfolk is almost equidistant of Auckland and Noumea. So may be an issue operationally.

  • Edward L Fletcher


    580 is a great aircraft for this run also as a freighter.

  • Mak


    Wouldn’t their ATR 72-500 be more economical on this route? While the CV580 has been a reliable pack horse for Air Chats and works well in a combi setup (specifically CV 580 CIB) for their Chatham Island service, I would have also thought the ATR would provide a more tourist centric service? Don’t get me wrong, the CVs are an awesome machine, they rattle a bit especially when pushing close to full power on calm spring morning leaving Chats with a full load of people and rock lobsters ha!

Comments are closed.

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.