Glenorchy Air’s taken a massive step towards its goal of becoming the first Queenstown-based operator to use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), taking possession of New Zealand’s first Daher Kodiak 100 Turboprop this week.
The nine-seater has a Pratt & Whitney PT6 engine, capable of running on SAF, when it becomes available.
Derived from renewable resources such as municipal waste, forest residues, and used cooking oil, SAF is seen to be a cleaner alternative to traditional fossil fuels, with the potential to reduce emissions by 80%.
The arrival of ZK-KDK from Idaho, United States, on Tuesday, means 77% of Glenorchy Air’s fleet is now SAF-ready.
Managing director James Stokes says the business is growing quickly and they needed more capacity, but the wait-time on a new Caravan was about 18 months, while the premiums for used ones are ‘‘a little bit unjustifiable at the moment’’.
The Kodiak, which cost about $4 million, gives the company more options.
It’ll do the heavy lifting on the Mount Cook route, frequent Milford Sound and occasionally Stewart Island and boasts ‘‘incredible runway performance’’.
‘‘It fits really nicely into our fleet, I think there are some other companies that will be taking an interest in it, we certainly have a few further up north that want to have a look at it,’’ Stokes says.
‘‘It’s the first of its kind in the country, we’re really excited to pioneer this aircraft here in NZ.’’
Queenstown Airport chief operating officer Todd Grace says Glenorchy Air’s investment in a SAF-capable aircraft is a confidence-booster for the industry at large.
‘‘Every airline will have their own rate at rolling out this type of technology, but I think what Glenorchy Air has done is shown the way for the rest of the airlines and operators at Queenstown Airport.
‘‘As airlines invest in this type of technology, then it builds the business case for the country to be able to start to invest in sustainable aviation fuels, and start to be able to bring them on with some scale.
‘‘So it’ll start small, and Glenorchy is only a small, regional airline, but I think it just paves the way for the country to be able to begin to invest in this type of technology.’’