AUCKLAND AS BASE
Two main points emerge from the revelations now made csncerning the Commonwealth Air Transport Council conference decisions. The first of these makes abundantly clear why the New Zealand and Australian Governments are both planning to take over responsibility for external air services. The second point, of greatest interest to Auckland, is that the city remains the New Zealand air terminal for major overseas airways, which argues urgent action in the provision of suitable city airports capable of handling substantial overseas traffic.
According to the report published to-day, it is certain that there will be at least five main overseas services using Auckland as a terminal. These will be:—
(1) 8.0.A.C. (British Overseas Airways Corporation), from England, via India, the Netherlands East Indies and Australia);
(2) An A.N.Z.U.K. service (operated by a joint company formed by the Australian, New Zealand and United Kingdom Governments in combination) to fly to Auckland from Vancouver, Canada, via San Francisco, Honolulu, Canton, and Fiji;
(3) A Trans-Canada Airways service, from England, via Canada, following the same route as A.N.Z.U.K. from Vancouver;
(4) Pan-American Airways (with a link with Britain, via its Atlantic services) to Auckland, from San Francisco and Honolulu, over possibly the same, but probably a different route to A.N.Z.U.K. and TransCanada services;
(5) Tasman Empire Airways, 'rom Sydney to Auckland.
Other Possible Services
Two other major services may also be in the picture. These are: Quantas (Australian) Airways, running parallel with 8.0.A.C. from England,, and an overseas airways service run by the American Matson Line (the Oceanic Steamship Company) flying over the same route as its ships served in the" past. In addition, Auckland is the obvious New Zealand terminal for proposed South Pacific services, run possibly by the New Zealand Government, or by a jointly operated United Kingdom, Australian-New Zealand Government service. i
Qantas are at present interested in the Karachi (India)-Austra'ia service, with the remaining link to England made by British Overseas Airways Corporation. It is plain from the decisions announced to-day that Qantas are to undertake a direct England - Australia service, parallel with that maintained by the British Overseas Airways Corporation. Whether the hope expressed that this service will eventually be extended to Auckland covers the parallel service, or merely the British Overseas Airways Corporation service, is yet to be explained. Qantas, as the Australian nominated company, are at present interested in Tasman Empire Airways, which, it is stated, may eventually be making daily flights to New Zealand.
The Australian-New Zealand manager for the Matson line, Mr. D. G. Sissons, was recently in New Zealand investigating and gathering information for his company to present to the United States Bureau of Civil Aeronautics in support of an application from his company to run to New Zealand and Australia over the same route followed by his company's ships, the idea being that tourists could thus choose whichever form of. transport suited them best.
Network of Routes
The announcement of routes quoted in the cable is probably subject to alteration, as it does not seem likelv that all services coming to Auckland will travel precisely the same course, particularly as plans for operating will be based on international arrangement, "a!nd the route will be divided according to capacity and schedules." All companies are interested in keeping the fares to as low a figure as possible, but cutthroat competition is hardly likely to be encouraged.
Speed is the essence of air travel, and it is unlikely that major lines like Pan American will sacrifice speed of connection between the United States and Australia to make a call at Auckland on their main line of operation. It is interesting to note, in this connection that the A.N.Z.U.K. and Trans-Canada links will be"made from Fiji, other services going on direct from there to Sydney.
Pan American has already issued contracts for the building of 26 D.C.7's, a Douglas transport that will carry 108 passengers, and travel at 300 m.p.h. They are already envisaging these "Strato-Clippers" making the flight to Sydney in 32 hours from Los Angeles, at a passenger fare of 295 dollars (roughly £90). as compared with, at the least, 19 days and about £120 by sea.
Their ideas on the question can, perhaps, be based on the fact that Pan American personnel, flying originally under contract as the U.S. Naval Air Transport Service, in the early days of the Pacific war, maintained a service from Honolulu (which was linked by P.A. with the mainland) via Canton (in the Phoenix group), Willis Island (West of Apia), He Nou (New Caledonia), to Brisbane. The Auckland service was a shuttle one—Auckland, He Nou, Brisbane and return. This service ended last November.
It may be that the Pan American service will be run on somewhat similar lines, possibly including Suva, with a terminal at Sydney, instead of, or in addition ,to Brisbane.
Government Operated"" Services
What interest the British Government has in 8.0.A.C. is not preciselv known. It is certainly one of three British Government instruments in maintaining overseas air links—the other two serving the Continent and South America. It is known the shipping interests are tied up with the South American service.
Trans-Canada is operated by the Canadian Governments-inaugurated as a new service (subsidiary to Canadian National Railroads) in 1938, and being granted exclusive rights on the cross-Canada run. Using Canadian-built modified Lancasters it has been maintaining an official air link with England since Canadian troops were stationed there. Under the announced decisions it will operate an Atlantic service parallel with 8.0.A.C., so that it will provide a direct service from Australia and New Zealand to Britain, via Canada.
Australia, some time ago, announced that its overseas air lines would be taken over and operated by the Commonwealth Government from June of this year. Since then an intensive campaign against na:tionalisation has been waged by the operators, and no Government move has yet been made. New Zealand's attitude will be established this Parliamentary session, but the external position is now fairly clear.
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SEVEN LINKS?, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 168, 18 July 1945
SEVEN LINKS? Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 168, 18 July 1945
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