Airport gears up for busy winter season

Queenstown Airport Med

Queenstown Airport is gearing up for another busy winter season with an increased flight schedule and the opening of its new international terminal in June.

Queenstown Airport Corporation CEO Scott Paterson says the winter season is looking “very positive”.

“Trans-Tasman flights are up 13 percent on top of a 25 percent increase last winter. This will give us a record 59 direct flights arriving from East Coast Australia on average per week during the peak winter months, equating to seven more landings per week than last year.”

The increased international flight schedule has been driven primarily by Jetstar’s three times-weekly service between the Gold Coast and Queenstown which commenced in December 2014. More flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane have also been added across the Jetstar/Qantas network.

Mr Paterson believes the boost in flights and seat capacity from East Coast Australia will make New Zealand’s Central Otago and Southern Lakes region a very attractive short haul winter holiday destination for Australians.

“Queenstown Airport is roughly a three-hour direct flight from Sydney, Melbourne, Coolangatta and Brisbane and provides a direct gateway to some of New Zealand’s best visitor experiences. With five ski areas within an hour and a half’s drive and world-class scenery, activities, food and wine, and accommodation choices, it’s an easy, affordable holiday for all ages and budgets.

“From an airport perspective, we’re delighted that our new international terminal will be operational this winter, enabling us to deliver world-class facilities and an outstanding passenger experience,” he says.

Driven by strong year-on-year international passenger growth, the 4,300sqm addition to the southern end of the terminal will double the size of Queenstown Airport’s international operations, allowing it to better cater for existing passenger volumes and accommodate future growth.

The airport’s winter flight schedule officially kicks off on 22 June around the time of the Queenstown Winter Festival, a much loved 10-day event that brings thousands of locals and visitors to the town’s streets and ski slopes to celebrate the start of the winter season.

Summary of winter flight schedule increases

Jetstar has increased its services by 26 percent on the Tasman route between March and October compared to the same period last year. Melbourne services will increase to 275 return services from 272 last year, Sydney to 254 return flights from 226 last year, and the new Gold Coast service represents more than 100 additional return flights. Jetstar winter passenger number projections are estimated at an extra 20,000 passengers to Queenstown.

Qantas will add more than 1,000 seats each week during the ski season. Currently operating three flights per week between Sydney and Queenstown, Qantas will add an extra service per week with daily flights from July to the end of August. It will also operate a twice-weekly service between Brisbane and Queenstown on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 8 June and 26 September.

Air New Zealand will increase its domestic services to Queenstown in the 12 months beginning June 2015, adding more than 140,000 extra domestic seats into and out of Queenstown compared with the previous 12 month period. These changes follow major increases to Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia’s trans-Tasman services last winter which has seen trans-Tasman capacity to Queenstown increase by more than 12 percent.