Bumper ski season in store

Paul Anderson.
Paul Anderson.
NZSKI is ''absolutely thrilled'' all four airlines serving Queenstown Airport have added tens of thousands of seats from Australia to the resort for the 2014 winter ski season. James Beech reports.

Chief executive Paul Anderson says the announcements of increased winter seats by Qantas, Jetstar, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia since late January have been ''most welcome'' for the company which operates Coronet Peak, the Remarkables and Mt Hutt ski areas.

''In some respects, we weren't surprised that there's a big demand for more Australians to come over, but obviously absolutely thrilled to see the increase in capacity,'' Mr Anderson said.

''We're going to have a lot of overseas visitors in Queenstown this winter.''

Mr Anderson said many Australians already had to fly to reach a domestic ski area. The increase in services into Queenstown made the New Zealand resort just as convenient, if not more convenient, for an Australian family to fly to for a ski holiday.

The expansion of the ski area at the Remarkables would help cater for the expected influx of additional tourists and there was spare capacity at Coronet Peak, he said.

''We're more than able to cope with a lot more visitors. We're thrilled because the more people we can get up on our ski areas, the better our business becomes as there are more improvements we can continue to make.

''We are going to be challenged at the Remarkables during this coming season with all the new terrain we're opening up and we'll still be operating out of the old base building.

Tens of thousands more Australians will have access to the Remarkables ski area (pictured) and Coronet Peak ski area when all four airlines boost capacity to Queenstown this winter.
Tens of thousands more Australians will have access to the Remarkables ski area (pictured) and Coronet Peak ski area when all four airlines boost capacity to Queenstown this winter.
''But we have to paint a bit of a picture for the future and make sure our guests understand that the improvements we've put in over this summer are only the first stage of what's coming next summer.''

The new base building, to cater for all guests, will be focus of infrastructure development during the 2014-15 summer.

NZSki will decide this season whether the new base building will be built where the existing base building is, or elsewhere.

More staff will be needed as expansion continues, such as extra operators for new chair lifts and snow-making systems, and extra patrollers for the expanded terrain.

NZSki is now interviewing candidates for about 1000 jobs across all three ski areas.

A ''significant proportion'' of jobs would go to New Zealanders, Mr Anderson said.

More than half the staff from last year would return for the new season, consistent with previous years.

About 700 trained positions in total needed filling at Coronet Peak and the Remarkables.

Infrastructure development at the Remarkables continued. Sealing of the access road was to begin in the next few weeks with one crew starting from the bottom of the road, another crew from the 4km mark and meeting half way.

All foundations bar one for the new chair lift towers were poured by last week and the towers were expected to be lifted into position in the next two weeks.

''It's a lot of hard work and there's up to 100 committed people up there,'' Mr Anderson said.

''People doing snow-making, earthmoving, lift contractors, electrical contractors, a whole range of things.

''There's some big hours being worked to keep on top of the programme because, of course, we don't have any choice but to be finished on time, so that's what we'll do.''

 


Frequent fliers

• Qantas schedules two extra Sydney to Queenstown services per week over Easter from April 7 and daily flights from July 4 until October 24.

• Qantas subsidiary Jetstar adds 44 extra return services from Australia (26 from Melbourne, 18 from Sydney) to Queenstown from July 1 to August 31.

• Alliance partners Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia operate up to five extra services a week between Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Queenstown from July to September.

• Coronet Peak opens June 7, Remarkables opens June 21.