Scheduled Douglas DC-3 flights returned to New Zealand this summer for the first time since 1974, thanks to Air Chathams. Since last October the airline has been using its sole DC-3, ZK-AWP, to fly passengers between Auckland and Whakatāne. The ‘Flight Back in Time’ service started 80 years after the prototype DC-3 made its maiden flight, operating once a week, departing Auckland at 4pm on Saturdays and making the return journey from Whakatāne at noon on Sunday. Flight time is approximately an hour.
Air Chathams has been flying scheduled and charter services in New Zealand for more than 30 years and had a spell in the 2000s operating in Tonga as Chathams Pacific. As well as its DC-3 – in fact a converted C-47B – its diverse fleet includes three Convair 580s, a Swearingen SA227 Metro and a Cessna 206.