‘Stoked’ to welcome Aussies back

The first scheduled international flight to Queenstown Airport in 330 days is set to touch down at 2.30pm next Monday.

Qantas flight QF121 from Sydney will be the first transtasman service to arrive in the resort since the short-lived transtasman bubble burst on July 30 last year.

Queenstown Airport chief executive Glen Sowry — who started in his role last September and has yet to see an international flight at the airport — said he was "stoked" to welcome Australians back to Queenstown.

"We know Aussies are keen to visit the lower South Island and that our airport community and local businesses are even more excited to welcome them back.

"Monday, May 23, marks an important step, not only in the airport’s recovery, but the region’s recovery after an incredibly challenging two years."

Jetstar is due to resume its transtasman services on June 2, followed by Air New Zealand on June 24.

Virgin plans to restart its transtasman services to Queenstown in November.

A Qantas spokeswoman said demand to Queenstown from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane was looking "very strong" in general, and particularly during July and August.

The airline had already put on more capacity during that period than it had in 2019, pre-Covid.

The spokeswoman said the airline would launch with a daily service from Sydney to Queenstown, increasing to 10 flights per week from July 1 and holding at that number for the rest of the year.

There would be four services per week from Melbourne to Queenstown and six services a week from Brisbane to Queenstown, both beginning on June 18.

Air New Zealand networks general manager Scott Carr said the airline’s restart dates for direct flights from Australia to Queenstown coincided with the start of the Australian school holidays, which begin on July 1.

"We know that Aussies love to visit Queenstown to hit the slopes, so we have seen strong demand with near-full flights across the first week when our direct services recommence.

Mr Sowry said during the peak days, in the middle of July, the airport expected up to 57 flights — both arrivals and departures — of which about a third would be transtasman.

"Prior to Covid, 30% of all passenger arrivals and departures at Queenstown Airport were from transtasman flights, so Aussies are an important part of our visitor mix."

Winter capacity on domestic routes would be similar to last year.

tracey.roxburgh@odt.co.nz

 

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