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NZ1209 touched down from Auckland this afternoon at 2.13pm, an Airbus A320 filled with both holiday makers and people returning home to the Queenstown Lakes District.
The occasion was marked with a performance from local covers band LA Social and a welcome which included Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult and Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker.
"Bunch of happy campers coming into town. A very small start but a very important start. Just a fabulous day."
Mr Walker said it was an amazing day not just for Queenstown, but the entire district and the wider Southland region.
"The most pleasing aspect for me is sometimes there’s been some negative criticism placed at the airport over the years, and what’s happened over the last six weeks the whole community’s realized just how important this asset is for us and our region."
Over 6000 people had signed a petition to get commercial flights back in Queenstown in Alert Level 2, Mr Walker said.
"This place is the heartbeat of our region and with those flights returning that heartbeat has started again, we now have a pulse."
Queenstown Airport chief executive Colin Keel said it had been a group effort getting commercial flights back into the region.
"We call this a new beginning, let’s hope so. I’m sure it will be. We’re really looking forward to the winter season and welcoming lots of folks here."
Despite the great atmosphere in the airport Mr Boult said the region still had a long way to go in its Covid-19 recovery.
"This is the spark that gets the engine going but what we really really want now is the Trans-Tasman bubble and we’re working with government to try and make that happen, hopefully somewhere round the ski season.