Budget airline Jetstar plans to establish a Queenstown base if night flights get the green light.
Queenstown Airport Corporation chief executive Steve Sanderson has been leading the charge for flights in and out of Queenstown after dark, last month boldly urging regulator the Civil Aviation Authority to make them priority.
This week a Jetstar spokesman tells Mountain Scene the airline is very supportive of calls to establish night flying into Queenstown and to back the airport in getting necessary approvals.
“If night flying was approved, Jetstar would look to set up a base in Queenstown, which would create jobs, increase the range of accessible flight options and the number of low fares in and out of this important destination,” the spokesman says.
The comments were backed up by Jetstar Group chief executive Bruce Buchanan on Tuesday when announcing a three-year $9 million marketing alliance with Tourism New Zealand.
Buchanan says Jetstar is very keen to partner with Queenstown Airport to introduce night flights and if that happens the growth potential is enormous.
“It would mean we’d base aircraft in that destination. Once we base aircraft, the range of flight possibilities into Queenstown goes up dramatically and obviously the growth as well.”
Sanderson, urging CAA not to procrastinate, has previously said people are hoping for night flights by next winter and he believes it’s doable.
CAA spokesman Bill Sommer says it’s up to the airlines to apply for night flying approval – and none had applied by last month.
Jetstar is refusing to say whether it’s planning to lodge an application, whilst an Air New Zealand spokeswoman has told Mountain Scene the national carrier has no plans to do so and the “safety case has not been sufficiently made”.
As it stands, aircraft must take off from Queenstown 30 minutes prior to dusk – around 5pm during winter.
Sanderson, who prefers to call them evening flights, wants that flight window pushed out to 6pm or 7pm.