Eagle Airways, a regional airline based in Hamilton, New Zealand, used to regularly serve the city as well as Blenheim, Tauranga, Rotorua, and some other cities in the surrounding area. Its partner, Air New Zealand, has pulled it out of regular service due to unsustainable losses in the previous years. One reason cited is the low passenger rates and high operating costs, which makes the airline hard to maintain.
When it was in its heyday, Eagle Airways used to keep busy hubs in Hamilton International Airport, Auckland Airport, Christchurch International Airport, and Wellington International Airport. It was also an affiliate of Star Alliance, with a fleet size of 16 planes with more than 20 destinations. This was a gradual change from its beginnings in 1969 when it grew out of the Eagle Flying Academy owned by Malcolm Campbell and John Fairclough. It soon developed in the late 1970s with the introduction of the nine-seater Piper Chieftain, the Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante, and Fairchild Metro aircraft.
This upward trend started to nose down in late 2009 due to the global financial crisis and resulting low economy. Eagle Airways was not able to sustain its new routes such as Christchurch-Te Anau and Hokitika-Wellington, which prevented its expansion plans. This called for a review on the lesser-performing routes. Suspension of flights continued through the years, which caused public ire at the periodic delays and flight cancellations. There were also service and maintenance issues that impeded the flights regularly as they were unequipped to deal with the harsher New Zealand weather.
Complaints about these issues were raised to Air New Zealand, the leading operator, until it decided to discontinue some of the operations of Eagle Airways after it finishes its scheduled flight line-up. Many of the staff of Eagle Airways was also transferred, with the rest of the remaining flights served by aircraft from other airlines. For now, Air New Zealand pulled back on services to a smaller number of centres and quit three towns – Kaitala, Whakatane, and Westport. Services to other centres will also use bigger planes to boost the passenger numbers. Fares are also being revamped to attract new customers.