Eagle Airways (Hamilton) will phase out its Beech 1900D operations in favour of larger Dash 8s or ATR72s with effect from August 2016. Air New Zealand (NZ, Auckland Int'l) CEO Christopher Luxon said the decision was made after a recent review of the carrier's domestic fleet operations had shown the Beech 1900D's economics had led Eagle Airways to incur heavy monthly losses since 2012.

“The 19-seat aircraft is the smallest in the Air New Zealand fleet but has the highest cost per seat to operate because the fixed costs of operation are distributed across fewer passengers. This has led to Eagle Airways, which operates the 19-seat fleet, losing NZD1million (USD0.78million) per month for the past two years, or the equivalent of NZD26 per one way passenger journey,” he said.

As a result, the carrier has decided to invest NZD100million (USD78million) into the purchase of four ATR72s with overall investment in new 68-seat aircraft to total NZD300million (USD231million) over four years.

"This brings total investment in new 68 seat aircraft to NZD300million over four years and will mean that Air New Zealand will move all regional flying to either 50 or 68 seat aircraft and exit its 19-seat fleet by August 2016."

However while network analysis has revealed that 13 of the carrier's domestic destinations would be able to sustain an increase in capacity, Kaitaia, Whakatane, and Westport can not and will therefore be dropped with effect from April 2015. Sunair Aviation (Tauranga) has, in the wake of the announcement, said it is in talks with Kaitaia and Whakatane authorities over their taking over the routes to Auckland Int'l using a 12-seater plane.

Alongside Eagle Airways' fleet of seventeen Beech 1900Ds, Air New Zealand Link's other carriers, Mount Cook Airline (NZM, Christchurch) and Air Nelson (RLK, Nelson), operate sixteen ATR72s and twenty-three Dash 8-300s respectively.