Ever wanted to own a historic aircraft? New Zealand’s Air Chathams has recently retired its oldest Convair 580 aircraft and is selling it in an auction. Bids start from NZD20,000 (~AU$18,917), which is less than the price of most new cars.
The Convair 580 aircraft, which was built in 1953, will never fly again as its engines and landing gear are being removed. Air Chathams is hoping that the plane’s new owner will convert the fuselage into something “cool”, such as an Airbnb home or food truck.
This historic Air Chathams Convair 580 (with registration ZK-KFH) was the 42nd aircraft of this type ever built. It began its life flying for United Airlines on 31 January 1953. Later the plane flew passengers for Lake Central Airlines, Allegheny Airlines, Mountain West Airlines, Nor-Fly, Partnair and even for European low-cost carrier Ryanair for a short while in 1988. In 1991 the airframe was converted to a freighter for a Canadian airline, before finishing its flying career with Air Freight NZ and finally Air Chathams.
The plane is now being retired from service and its owner, Air Chathams, is auctioning off the plane’s fuselage on New Zealand’s Trade Me Marketplace website. Bidding closes on Thursday 20 June and the owner will need to collect the aircraft from Auckland Airport in New Zealand.
Air Chathams is a niche airline operating scheduled passenger, cargo and charter services in New Zealand. As well as flying to the Chatham Islands, the airline operates flights from Auckland to Wanganui, Whakatane, the Kapiti Coast and Norfolk Island.
Air Chathams has a unique fleet including Douglas DC-3s, Saab 340s, an ATR-72, a Fairchild Metroliner and Convair 580s, which are still being used on some commercial flights. Flying on an Air Chathams Convair 580 is like taking a step back in time as there is an extraordinary amount of legroom, it’s extremely noisy and the flight attendant’s telephone has a long, spiral cord. But the experience is also a whole lot of fun.
The small Kiwi airline is also renowned for its genuine, friendly service. This is one of the few commercial airlines that really goes out of its way to help its customers and it’s a real asset to the Kiwi communities that it serves.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Anyone want to buy an old Convair 580?