Kendell Trip Report
I haven’t posted many trip reports of late as most have been pretty mundane domestic trips on either Qantas or Virgin. This current trip involves 5 legs on Qantas (2 already completed) but also 3 today on Kendell Airlines, which may interest one or two people.
Flights (all 04 JUL):
KD 266, Melbourne-Portland, Metro 23, VH-KDT, 3 pax (including check captain)
KD 267, Portland-Mt Gambier, Metro 23, VH-KDT, 5 pax (ditto)
KD 387, Mt Gambier-Adelaide, Metro 23, VH-KEU, 14 pax (ditto)
I arrived at the airport about 6 hours early, not because I am masochistic, but because my aunt had to take a 10:30am flight to Perth and I was thus able to save a hefty taxi/bus fare by getting a ride out with her. However, I was able to check in at that time, with 4 KD staff manning the otherwise empty Ansett departure hall. My boarding passes were issued, and I was most disappointed to note that they are now reduced to printing them on plain white A4 paper, and cutting them to approx boarding pass size with scissors. Then they write the flight number on one end and half cut the paper, giving a sort of tab to rip off. Very basic, but I suppose at the moment they make do with what they have.
When it finally became time to leave, I headed down to the Ansett end of the Melbourne terminal and passed security which is now halfway down the A concourse. The security post was deserted and someone jumped up from their coffee when I started putting my bags on the conveyer belt. I then went and sat in the one lounge where there seemed to be activity – gate 4. Looking around, I spotted about 15 people and was happy to see KD still managed to fill their planes – until I realised there were 4 flights leaving, two of which were Saab 340s.
KD’s entire airport ops are conducted from the Gate 4 desk. The one woman (later assisted by someone else) not only had to print out passenger manifests and loadsheets for the pilots, but attend to passenger requests, board flights, determine fuel required for the aircraft and number/weight of bags being stowed aboard the planes. Not to mention take phone calls from KD’s country stations. Quite a feat, though she was hopelessly overloaded and one wonder’s whether in some situations an important slip-up might occur. The pilots also all congregated here and it was interesting to “eavesdrop” on some idle KD chatter.
As I awaited my departure, a Saab left for Devonport with 5 passengers and the Albury/Wagga Saab left soon after with 11. Immediately after I left there was a Metro due to leave for Mildura and there was only 1 pax left in the departure gate. My flight had 3 pax, one of which was a check captain returning to his Adelaide base (thus on the same routing as myself). It was quite tragic to see the loads and to overhear the comments of concern expressed by the pilots as they were told their pax loads. I only hope this was because the flights were mid-afternoon and isn’t the general rule.
It was my first flight on a Metro and though some of you might think I come from another planet, it was love at first sight. Sure it’s noisy, sure you can’t stand up or go to the bathroom, but at least you get to experience a bit what flying is really like (or as much as a regular RPT passenger can). Flight was a bit bumpy and the landing at Portland very hard due to a crosswind (20-25kts) but the flight was otherwise uneventful. We all disembarked for about 10 mins and enjoyed some home-baked cookies at the Kendell desk. It’s great when staff all pitch in to aid the company cause.
I was also interested to see that a Sharp Aviation flight was leaving PTJ for Avalon and Essendon. I have never heard of this airline but according to their timetable I picked up, they have 2x daily “airline” (ie: not charter) flights on the route. Anyone know anything about them? The aircraft was VH-CCL but I couldn’t tell you what type. The flight was certainly chokkas – about 10 pax. It was also good to see they provided newspapers, drinks and a sandwich to pax before they boarded, even more than some full-fare airlines do in Oz these days…
The hop to MGB was short – about 15mins. Due to the time difference you arrive before you leave. I got the chance to chat to the KD check captain and try and glean some info on the Australiawide deal. I can tell you that:
1. A new name and livery has already been decided or will be by week’s end. Not surprisingly it is all very hush-hush.
2. As we know, currently services will be reduced but a new expanded schedule will be announced. This will include a major Queensland expansion (Qld govt subsidised routes?) and extra service from CBR (not only added services to MEL, SYD but on other routes, possibly NTL and OOL)
3. CRJs are definitely gone for good as most of us thought
4. No way are they going to link their ADL-MEL-SYD hubs with direct flights. They see this as suicide and hope to link up with one of the two majors in this regard.
Mount Gambier was a hive of activity. True to the old days of TAA and Ansett, there were O’Connor and Kendell both operating services to the same city leaving at exactly the same time (flights were leaving for both ADL and MEL). So much so that one plane followed the other to the runway (do they have races to see who gets there first?). Thus there were 2 KD Metros and 2 UQ J32s.
It was also a relief to see that KD had much improved pax loads, both on the return to MEL and on my flight to Adelaide. That said, the O’Connor flights were sold out and on my flight were a couple of pax from a business group who missed seats on the UQ service. But any pax is a good pax.
Landing in Adelaide was great – it was my first ever landing on Runway 30, which affords great views of the city and southern suburbs – Adelaide is so gorgeous at night from the air. Secondly a QF 73H was landing on 23 just as we touched down (I counted 3 secs between our respective landings. Given that we crossed 23, I imagine the 737 was given VERY late landing clearance. Indeed, being very much NOT an expert, I still felt it was far too close. We parked at the terminal 15 mins before schedule (we took off from MGB 5 mins early) and our bags were on the carousel before we reached it.
Overall, it was GREAT. Firstly the trip meant more flights, more time airborne and more airports. However, what really stood out was the friendliness of the Kendell people, the willingness of the pilots to fill in my info seats and chat about the airlines’ prospects. And most importantly, I got there safely and early.
I’m not on the KD payroll, but after this experience, I’d recommend anyone to take the plunge and fly Kendell next you do Sydney-Melbourne or Melbourne-Adelaide (or CBR-SYD/MEL). Not only are you helping a little aussie battler, but you will experience good service and arrive on time. I imagine SYD-MEL via CBR on the Saabs won’t be as intimate as the true to-the-bush-and-back route through Portland and Mt Gambier but it’s worth it anyway.