Over the weekend, the Southern Lakes region and North Island were connected by air once more when Air New Zealand flight NZ1209 from Auckland touched down at Queenstown Airport at 2:13 pm on Saturday.
On Thursday, as New Zealand transitioned to Alert Level 2, Queenstown Airport welcomed back its first domestic service from Christchurch after 43 days without a scheduled flight.
“We were thrilled to welcome domestic scheduled flights back to Queenstown Airport this week and the first flight from Auckland," says Queenstown Airport Corporation chief executive Colin Keel.
Colin says that, while it has been a very challenging few months for everyone given the significant impact of COVID-19 on the aviation and tourism sectors as well as the broader regional economy, the local airport community remains strong, committed and resilient.
“Many in the community have been asking for flights to resume at Queenstown Airport, whether for personal or business reasons, so it was indeed a special moment on Satyrday when our team and the wider community could celebrate this milestone. Bringing back domestic air travel to the area is a welcome step forward to recovery.
“We know the road ahead is going to be tough, but today we marked a new beginning. Kiwis have told us that they are ready to travel and it’s been heartening to hear from locals and domestic visitors that the Alert Level 2 health and safety protocols are working well.
“As an active member of the New Zealand Aviation Coalition, Queenstown Airport has been working hard with other airports, airlines and government departments to ensure there are consistent health and safety protocols and processes in place to facilitate domestic air travel across the country,” says Colin.
Air New Zealand’s head of tourism and regional affairs Reuben Levermore says it’s great to be flying into Queenstown again.
“We feel the pain that the tourism industry is going through at present, and the best thing we can do is to help get the country moving again. While we aren’t yet in a position to offer as many seats as we’d like, we will be building back our schedule in response to demand, and continuing to work alongside our partners in Queenstown and the wider region including Queenstown Airport, regional tourism organisations and chambers of commerce to support winter tourism and the broader economic recovery.”
At Alert Level 2 access to the airport’s terminal building is restricted to ticketed travellers and airport staff. The airport’s international terminal remains closed until trans-Tasman flights resume.
Queenstown Airport is part of a wider group working with the governments on both sides of the Tasman to reopen the border between New Zealand and Australia.