Dominion Airlines 1930-31

Dominion Airlines ran a weekday passenger and airmail service between Gisborne and Hastings in December 1930 and January 1931. The service began on 22 December 1930 with airmail payment by a special 6d label. Letters were posted on arrival and so there was also the ordinary 1d postage.

Sixpence label

Gisborne 6d Gisborne 6d

44 letters were flown with the Hastings to Gisborne 6d label, but Gisborne to Hastings labels were not issued until 29 December and only 4 letters were flown. The Hastings to Gisborne labels were perforated and in sheets of six while the Gisborne to Hastings labels were single and imperforate. An unused example of the latter is shown. Both labels were inscribed Dominion Airways in error.

The plane was a Desoutter monoplane and the pilot was George Bolt.

The Post Office complained that the labels were illegal and their use was stopped after one week on 29 December.

Charge for pilot's signature

The flights continued for another month, but with cut down labels in which the 6d value had been removed or, as in the example, with part of the label pasted over the value. A charge of 6d was now made for the signature of the pilot (George Bolt).

The word Airways in the label has been corrected to Airlines. The label is initialled AR which stands for A. Rosenberg. Passengers and mail were conveyed from Hastings and Gisborne to their respective aerodromes by taxi: Aards Tours Company in Hastings and Blue and White Taxi Co in Gisborne and mail to be flown was handed in at their offices [1]. Rosenberg was the agent of the Aard Company in Hastings.

This is an example of the specially printed covers showing the route. The printing on the Hastings - Gisborne covers is a light greenish blue.

Directional cachet

In later covers, the cut down label was replaced by a cachet giving the direction. This cover was flown from Hastings to Gisborne on 29 January. The covers were still signed by George Bolt.

The cachets were signed with the initials AR or with the signature A Rosenberg. This was done at the Aard Company's offices in Hastings.

This is obviously an artificial cover as it was sent by Rosenberg in Hastings to himself. It was flown from Hastings to Gisborne where it was posted and sent back to Hastings by ordinary post.

End of service

The next cover was flown from Gisborne to Hastings on 30 January which was the last day of the service. It is one of the specially printed Gisborne - Hastings covers. The map is in a very deep blue. The initials AR would have been added when the cover arrived in Hastings.

The intention was only to suspend the service while the Desoutter monoplane was overhauled.

However, in early February there was a devastating earthquake in this area. Special emergency flights took place between Gisborne and Hastings and mail was carried as the road had been badly damaged. On 8 February, Ivan Knight, the managing director of Dominion Airlines crashed and was killed on one of the flights while flying the Desoutter monoplane. As a result, Dominion Airlines ceased operations.

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All scans were made by the author. Information on this page is taken from:
Airmails of New Zealand, volume 1 (1955) compiled by Douglas A Walker, and the New Zealand Airmail Catalogue, (2nd Edition, 1994) by James Stapleton. Both are published by the Air Mail Society of New Zealand
[1] The Dominion Airlines Stamp of New Zealand, A. McKellar, The Kiwi, vol 58, pp 62-69, May 2009.