Queenstown Lakes and the North Island were reconnected by air last Saturday when an Air New Zealand flight from Auckland touched down at Queenstown Airport.
Queenstown’s first scheduled domestic flight in 43 days had arrived from Christchurch the previous Thursday, after New Zealand transitioned to Alert Level 2.
Queenstown Airport Corporation chief executive Colin Keel said “We were thrilled to welcome domestic scheduled flights back to Queenstown Airport this week and the first flight from Auckland today.”
Keel said that, while it has been a very challenging few months for everyone given the significant impact of coronavirus on the aviation and tourism sectors, as well as the broader regional economy, the local airport community remained 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 today when our team and the wider community could celebrate this milestone,” he said. “Bringing back domestic air travel to the area is a welcome step forward to recovery.
“Kiwis have told us that they are ready to travel and it’s been heartening to hear from locals and domestic visitors today 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,” said Keel.
Air New Zealand’s head of Tourism and Regional Affairs Reuben Levermore said it was 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,” he added.
“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.
Read edition 975 of the Wānaka Sun here.