Queenstown welcomes first flight for 45 days

Queenstown’s Covid-19 recovery made a baby step today with the arrival of its first scheduled commercial jet flight in 45 days.

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.

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult with son James, a passenger on NZ1209.
Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult with son James, a passenger on NZ1209.
Mr Boult said he was delighted to see the passengers walk through the terminal.

"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."

NZ1209 settles on the tarmac from Auckland. Photos: Hugh Collins
NZ1209 settles on the tarmac from Auckland. Photos: Hugh Collins
Mr Keel said the airport had been working hard with other airports, airlines and government to ensure there were consistent health and safety protocols and processes in place to facilitate domestic air travel across the country.

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. 

Comments

Good scene.

Tourism is an overseas resource. In that respect, we're Cargo Cult. The Pacific is that way inclined.

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