Queenstown Airport has been given the green light for "game
changing" night flights by aviation authorities once
improvements are made.
New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority and Australia's Civil
Aviation Safety Authority both approved in principle the
safety case for flights in darkness up to 10pm.
Flights are currently only permitted to take-off and land
during daylight hours, which restricts airport operations
during shorter winter days.
Clearing the safety hurdle is a huge step forward for night
flights, long considered a way to make weekend ski breaks far
more attractive for Australian visitors who'll be able to fly
in on Friday nights after work and depart again on Sunday
But the airport must first make 66 infrastructure
improvements to its aerodrome and operations before flights
can begin, likely in 2016, including widening the runway and
And airlines must assess demand for evening services and
apply to the regulator for individual operator approval.
Queenstown Airport Corporation chief executive Scott Paterson
says: "The decision by the authorities on both sides of the
Tasman to approve the foundation safety case for after-dark
flights is a potential game changer for Queenstown's tourism
industry and the regional economy.
"Realistically, evening flights wouldn't be introduced before
winter 2016, but we now have a very clear roadmap of the
technology, infrastructure and operational steps required to
enable it to happen."
Queenstown Airport Corporation minority shareholder Auckland
Airport, with 24.99 per cent, has praised the decision of the
civil aviation authorities.
Auckland Airport's general manager corporate affairs Charles
Spillane says: "Today's announcement will benefit New
Zealand's tourism industry more than we can imagine. It is
great news for our travel and tourism industries.
"Evening flights will significantly benefit passengers and
local businesses. This is especially true in winter, when
Queenstown is an extremely popular travel destination but the
airport's hours of operation are very limited."
"We congratulate and thank everyone at Queenstown Airport, in
the aviation industry and in Government who has worked to
deliver this change, which will help to grow business for the
resort and travel options for residents."
- by Paul Taylor, Mountain Scene