More transtasman links in the wind

If Pacific Blue's transtasman flights from Dunedin and Queenstown are well supported, flights to other Australian destinations will be added, airline bosses say.

The pledge comes as the airline announced it would provide three low-fare flights from Dunedin to Brisbane per week, and two low-fare flights a week from Queenstown to Sydney, starting on September 1 this year.

Pacific Blue spokesman Phil Boeyen said if Otago and Southland residents supported the services, flights from Dunedin to Sydney and Melbourne, or Queenstown to Brisbane and Melbourne, could be added to the schedule.

Once in Australia, Otago and Southland residents could fly to other Australian and even Asian destinations, such as Bali.

Queenstown Airport Corporation chief executive Steve Sanderson was delighted with the announcement and was certain the "pull" of the Lakes District would create enough demand from Australian citizens to convince the airline to expand its services to Brisbane and Melbourne.

"I'm confident of that," he said.

Fares for the new transtasman flights went on sale on the internet at 10am yesterday.

Dunedin International Airport chief executive John McCall was also pleased with Pacific Blue's announcement.

He believed it could be one of the "key drivers" for a regeneration of the local economy.

"Brisbane has been a very lucrative and successful market. Freedom Air always said . . . the Dunedin-to-Brisbane route was their most successful transtasman route."

Since Freedom Air was taken out of commission and flights were replaced by Air New Zealand, services between Dunedin and Brisbane had been reduced.

"What Pacific Blue have realised is that there is a market in Dunedin and they've decided to seize the opportunity. It can only be good for the economy in Dunedin," Mr McCall said.

"The trickle-down effect on the Otago economy from this convenient international travel is immense."

Air New Zealand Tasman Pacific general manager Glen Sowry said the decision to go to "seasonal services" in Dunedin was due to soft demand.

"It is our intention to be able to regrow our Dunedin transtasman services . . . as demand dictates, and we will keep working hard to build demand locally and out of Australia into Dunedin."

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