The emergence of Air New Zealand
When the government nationalised domestic air services in 1945, it took over Union Airways’ shareholding in TEAL. In 1954 the British withdrew from the consortium, leaving ownership divided between New Zealand and Australia. New Zealand bought out the Australian shareholding in 1961, to become the sole owner of TEAL. A name change to Air New Zealand followed in 1965, coinciding with the building of the new Auckland international airport at Māngere (which officially opened in 1966).
No longer constrained by British or Australian interests, Air New Zealand was now free to develop into a fully international carrier. Within a few years it had diversified the trans-Tasman routes, increased the Pacific destinations, and extended services to Asia, North America and the United Kingdom.
Who was flying in 1966?
Of every 100 passengers: 41 travelled on recreation, 41 on business, and 18 for ‘other reasons’. One in three was a woman. 1
Although it was still a small international airline, Air New Zealand’s local status soared in the decade 1965–75. International air travel and tourism were growing in popularity. Commercially successful, Air New Zealand generated national pride and accumulated valuable political credits. The result was to revive the long-standing question of Air New Zealand’s relationship with the National Airways Corporation. Why did New Zealand need two state-owned airlines?
The end of NAC
After 1975 Air New Zealand, the Ministry of Transport and the National government pushed for a merger. Though this was strongly resisted by NAC, the government announced in December 1977 that the two airlines would amalgamate in 1978. Accordingly, on 1 April NAC ceased to exist as a separate airline. For the next 11 years Air New Zealand was the state-owned carrier on both domestic and international routes.
Air New Zealand replaced obsolete aircraft with modern, larger types, moving into all-jet, wide body, and jumbo versions. The Boeing 747s and 767s carried international travellers into the 21st century, when Airbus A320 models also joined the fleet.
By the time Air New Zealand took over in 1978, NAC had already standardised its domestic fleet with the Fokker F27 series and Boeing 737s. The Fokkers remained until 1990, when they were replaced on the provincial routes by smaller, more economic commuter aircraft such as the Embraer Bandeirante, the Fairchild-Swearingen Metro, the Saab 340A, and the Raytheon Beech. Boeings, however, were still the mainstay of services at the turn of the century.