South welcomes additional resort flights

Air New Zealand plans to increase operating capacity for flights going in and out of Queenstown...
Air New Zealand plans to increase operating capacity for flights going in and out of Queenstown to above what it was the same time last year.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
A school holiday increase of Air New Zealand flight capacity to levels above what was available before Covid-19 is being applauded by business leaders in Otago.

Yesterday, Air New Zealand said it would increase operating capacity for flights going in and out of Queenstown to above what it was the same time last year.

Across its domestic network it would increase flights to 90% of what it was before Covid-19.

Air New Zealand networks general manager Scott Carr said that before the pandemic 20% of the passengers on the domestic network were international visitors — making it clear more New Zealanders were flying around the country.

"We’ve added capacity to the majority of our routes in the two-week holiday period. We’re operating 1000 extra one-way flights these school holidays compared with the July break."

Queenstown Chamber of Commerce interim general manager Craig Douglas said school holidays were an important time for businesses in the resort town — and he hoped an increase in capacity would make those flights cheaper.

"We’ve got school holidays come up again so particularly with the relaxing of alert levels this week, hopefully it triggers a whole lot of people to travel and come to Queenstown.

"All of the indications are that people want to travel and Queenstown is a highly aspirational destination for New Zealand ... and we’ve still got some skiing happening, so for those who want to get a ski in before the end of the season there’s still that opportunity too."

The Otago Southland Employers’ Association said the increased capacity was "tremendous news" for Dunedin, Invercargill and Queenstown airports.

"Our tourism operators, cafes and restaurants and accommodation providers will welcome these visitors," association chief executive Virginia Nicholls said.

Enterprise Dunedin director John Christie said the increased number of flights would benefit the city on a number of fronts.

"Obviously the opportunity for people to be travelling for business up and down the country, which is critical. We’re very dependent on the Auckland market in particular.

"School holidays are upon us — we’ve got a great opportunity to do marketing for domestic tourism and we’re keen for people to come and explore what Dunedin has to offer."

Mr Christie said Enterprise Dunedin was able to turn marketing initiatives on and off depending on the fluctuating flight levels.

"We have been marketing more heavily to the drive market in recent weeks but it will be nice to get some marketing in to the North Island now that we can get those regular flights back to the city."

Dunedin International Airport Limited chief executive Richard Roberts welcomed the extra flights.

"There has been a great response to the extra tickets put into the market over the last two weeks and this shows that New Zealanders are keen to explore their own backyard," Mr Roberts said.

He said safety and security would be the airport’s first priority, "so we will continue to encourage safe practices".

Air New Zealand is still requiring face coverings or masks on all domestic flights while Auckland remains at Alert Level 2. — Additional reporting Matthew Mckew

jacob.mcsweeny@odt.co.nz

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