The first scheduled commercial air services had been started in New Zealand in December 1934, but by 1939 there was already a network of services covering New Zealand, with three companies operating. On the outbreak of war, ten aircraft were taken over by the Government. As a result, one company ceased operations. The other two maintained services on a reduced scale. Over 53,000 passengers had been carried in 1938–39, but by 1940–41 the numbers had fallen to some 37,000 and were to remain between 30,000 and 40,000 until they moved up to over 50,000 again in 1944–45.
It is difficult to tell how fast air services would have grown over these years had the war not intervened, but the expansion in the page 416 post-war years was to be rapid, with passenger numbers increasing more than tenfold between 1946 and 1960.