Indoor Skydive centre lands local owners

Local operators have taken the plunge to buy the Queenstown branch of iFly. Photo: Getty Images
Local operators have taken the plunge to buy the Queenstown branch of iFly. Photo: Getty Images
Queenstown's first indoor skydive centre iFly has been sold by US based owners, just under three years after its 2018 launch.

The future and ownership has now fallen to Queenstown tourism operator Matt Wong, who jumped at the opportunity to take over the attraction.

Wong explains the attraction, which was "designed to simulate the freefall of skydiving in a controlled indoor environment", was aimed at the area's international visitors.

The former manager for lakes-based Ngāi Tahu Tourism attractions, began work for iFLY in June 2018 as general manager and helped launch the New Zealand branch of the franchise.

However like so many of the regions adventure attractions they were faced with dire straits following the Pandemic and closure of New Zealand's borders, last year.

Following the disappearance of Queenstown's international market, Texas-based parent company pulled the ripcord on operations, offering it for sale. It was at this point Matt and wife Amy took over the business. At a point when iFLY had seen a 80% decline in customers, it was a brave decision.

Wong says "We had to make some fast decisions to better cater for our locals and domestic visitors. Thankfully it's worked well and has created a great opportunity for us to keep the business locally-owned and operated going forward."

Adjusting prices, and times for the mostly weekend leisure visitors Wong says he was able to reverse-engineer the business into a domestic-focused attraction.

Tracking their performance against the 80 other indoor skydiving centres operated by Sky Venture International worldwide, the Queenstown operation was one of the most profitable during 2020, thanks to the lack of a prolonged national lockdown.

Matt Wong said it was this which gave him the confidence to take a punt on the business: "we've had to back ourselves and make the most of the opportunities. It certainly hasn't been easy and we've a long way to go but Amy and I are convinced the business has a great future which is why we've taken it on."

The $15 million wind tunnel built at the foot of the Queenstown Skyline gondola on Brecon St, was a prime position for more casual visitors.

It was not disclosed how much the business was sold for by Austin-based iFLY international. Matt Wong will remain as part of the directorship, with colleague Josh Easby. Outgoing director and former CEO Simon Ward will continue to support the iFly New Zealand as an advisor.

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