Air NZ brings forward night flights


Queenstown’s first commercial night flight is scheduled to land this month.

Air New Zealand’s first scheduled after-dark flight, from Auckland to Queenstown, lands on May 23, arriving at 6.15pm and return to Auckland at 6.50pm.

The airline’s full evening schedule takes effect from July 3, when the last departure from Queenstown will be 7.30pm and the last arrival at 9.35pm.

It comes after Air NZ’s first “proving flight”, on Saturday night, was hailed a success.

Saturday night’s test flight is the first of several.

Jetstar will launch its evening services from Melbourne on June 24.

The inaugural international night flight is scheduled to land in the resort at 7.20pm.

Air NZ flight operations and safety boss Captain David Morgan describes the introduction of after-dark flights to Queenstown as “a milestone for NZ aviation”.

“We’re proud to be the first airline to offer this service to customers which is sure to bring significant benefits to the Central Otago economy through the additional flights.”

Morgan says the airline worked with Queenstown Airport Corporation, the Civil Aviation Authority and Airways NZ to prepare for night flights, which had included introducing the Runway Overrun Protection System (ROPS) technology on board.

The technology is an alert system which reduces risks of runway overrun, and if necessary, provides active protection.

It complements the existing head-up display already fitted to the A320 aircraft.

Last week, the $1.65 million airfield lighting project at Queenstown Airport was tested by Airways for the first time.

The work, which included the installation or repositioning of about 200 lights, including precision approach path indicator lights, touchdown approach, runway centreline, runway edge and threshold lights, was part of a $19.6m runway infrastructure upgrade, which included widening the runway to 45m.

Meanwhile, changeable wind posed problems at Queenstown Airport yesterday. Queenstown Airport Corporation communications manager Jen Andrews said three aircraft apparently missed their approaches into the resort yesterday morning but all landed safely “after a go-round”. She says the problems occurred because of wind changing direction.