Straits Air Freight Express (SAFE) was a cargo airline, established in 1950, named for the fact that it encompassed Cook Strait and connected the North Island and South Island (of New Zealand) railway systems from the 1950s to the 1970s.
The main aircraft type that the company operated was the Bristol Type 170 Freighter Mk.31. The “cargon” system was designed in-house – a pallet and transfer system using modified railway flatcars to allow trucked loads to be transferred directly into the nose doorway of the tail-wheeled aircraft. This reduced the turn-around time of 10 tonne unload/load cycles to less than 10 minutes. For such an operation, that was an extremely fast cycle.
The company also operated two much larger Armstrong Whitworth AW.660 Argosy aircraft from 1974 until the end of flying in 1990.
The company, renamed Safe Air Limited in 1966, diversified into aviation maintenance. In 1972 it was bought by the National Airways Corporation, which then merged with Air New Zealand. Safe Air continued to be operated as an independent entity by both owners. It ceased flying in 1990, but has continued to expand as a maintenance facility and now employs approximately 350 staff.