Service may take pressure off Queenstown: manager

Invercargill Airport. Photo: Southland Express
Invercargill Airport. Photo: Southland Express
The new Invercargill to Auckland air service should attract a lot of travellers now  using Queenstown or Dunedin airports when flying north, Invercargill Airport general manager Nigel Finnerty says.

Air New Zealand yesterday announced the service, using its Airbus A320 aircraft, was expected to begin during the second half of 2019.

Invercargill Airport was "well positioned and one of the best options to help the growth and distribution of tourism in the South, alleviating some of the pressure on Queenstown," he said.

"The new service will be a trial  ... and it will be up to Southlanders to show their support. The more it is used, the more potential there is for it to be retained or even expanded."

Mr Finnerty admitted more work would be needed in the terminal to support the  service.

"Besides installing scanners for the passengers and the screening of baggage going into the hold, we will also need to build separate lounges to accommodate passengers on these flights."

The new  service would depart Invercargill for Auckland at 6am with a return flight leaving Auckland at 7.35pm and arriving in Invercargill at 9.30pm.

It would run five days a week — Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said he was pleased to see one of the country’s longest runways put to good use.

"We have the infrastructure and we have the capacity, so it’s fantastic that we’re now able to open up the region to more people, more business and more opportunity."

Mr Finnerty said the announcement was the result of many discussions and  negotiations between the airport and Air New Zealand.

"Southlanders have been asking for a direct flight between Invercargill and Auckland for a long time.

"We believe the Southland community will get right behind this trial and make this service a success."

Air New Zealand regional affairs manager Reuben Levermore said the company was pleased to be expanding its presence in Southland and looked forward to creating new opportunities in the region.

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