More Aussies heading our way

Queenstown is about to become the impulse weekend break of choice for even more Australians with the introduction of additional cheap direct flights, starting in less than a week.

However, Queenstown and Christchurch residents, businesspeople and visitors will have to make alternative arrangements to get between the two centres with the axing of the direct Queenstown-Christchurch flight.

Jetstar is poised to start an extra return service between Queenstown and Melbourne, taking flights from three to four per week, and will also boost the Queenstown-Sydney flights from two to three per week.

The two extra transtasman services will fly on Saturday, leaving Australia in the morning and arriving in the resort by mid-afternoon.

The airline told the Otago Daily Times yesterday the additional services would mean an extra 600 seats a week in and out of Queenstown. Staff employment levels would stay the same.

The new services will boost the total number of Jetstar transtasman seats in and out of the Wakatipu to almost 2000 a week.

The Qantas subsidiary has consistently invested in its Queenstown services since it started flying into Queenstown in June 2009.

A spokesman said the resort was a popular holiday destination for Australians "because it combines a stunning landscape with a huge range of sporting activities".

"It's a year-round resort and appeals to a real cross-section of travellers of all ages.

"Jetstar has had good support for its current services into Queenstown from Australia and we believe the Southern Lakes capital is such a world-class holiday destination that demand will continue for affordable flights that offer easy access for Australian travellers."

The airline's new schedule introduced this month delivers extra seats into Christchurch.

However, Jetstar said it was cancelling its five weekly services between Christchurch and Queenstown because customers now found it easier to fly to the resort directly than via the Garden City.

The last direct Queenstown-Christchurch service will fly on Wednesday.

Jetstar will also reduce its services between Christchurch and the Gold Coast and also Melbourne by one flight per week, while continuing to provide three services a week and daily flights respectively.

The airline will increase its New Zealand fleet from eight to nine Airbus A320 aircraft from Thursday.

Jetstar services between Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are expected to grow by 600,000 seats a year. It already has 20% of the domestic market.