Jetstar plans to start night flights at Queenstown Airport a week before archrival Air New Zealand.
The Qantas cut-price subsidiary announced yesterday it would run daily evening flights between the resort and Melbourne for three months from June 24.
The new service coincides with the start of the Queenstown Winter Festival – something its spin doctor describes as a “happy coincidence”.
Air New Zealand announced in January it would begin daily after-dark flights between the resort and Auckland on July 1.
Both airlines are awaiting regulatory approval.
The news comes in an environment of a burgeoning tourism market, and on the back of increasing flights and new routes.
Jetstar New Zealand head Grant Kerr says night flights will give travellers more options for planning winter holidays in Queenstown.
The service will also provide better connections for passengers on long-haul airlines travelling to and from the resort via Melbourne.
Jetstar’s trans-Tasman service will leave Melbourne at 2.05pm (Australian time) and arrive in Queenstown at 7.20pm (NZ time). The return flight will depart at 8.20pm (NZ time) and arrive in Melbourne at 9.55pm (Australian time).
Spin doctor Phil Boeyen denies the airline is deliberately upstaging Air New Zealand by starting night flights a week earlier.
“It’s not so much a matter of getting in ahead. It’s good for the schedule, it offers flexibility, it’s going to be advantageous for our Melbourne travellers and for those who are going to connect.”
Starting the service on the opening day of WinterFest is a “happy coincidence”, Boeyen says.
Queenstown Airport acting boss Mark Edghill says the service will be a “huge plus” for Australian skiers and holidaymakers.
“Keen skiers and boarders will no longer have to cut short their day on the slopes, as they can get a full day on the mountain before hopping on a direct flight back to Australia in the evening.”
Edghill says a more evenly spread international flight schedule during winter will ease pressure on the airport’s facilities.
Air New Zealand couldn’t be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, an extra 30,000 annual airline seats have been added to Air New Zealand’s Dunedin to Wellington flights.
In Dunedin, the news has been lauded as a vote of confidence in the city.
Air New Zealand announced yesterday it would replace its turboprop ATR aircraft between Wellington and Dunedin with jet services, from October.
That meant on average two fewer flights a week, but an increase in seats of 11 per cent, or 30,000 seats annually, and faster flights in the airline’s 171-seat Airbus A320 aircraft.
As well, from late October it would move to 68-seat ATR aircraft between Dunedin and Christchurch, instead of smaller 50-seat Bombardier Q300 and ATR aircraft.
Dunedin Airport boss Richard Roberts says the city will have more capacity and a better, quicker service, “which is what we wanted, what the public wanted”.
Otago Chamber of Commerce boss Dougal McGowan says the move by Air New Zealand is “absolutely a vote of confidence” in Dunedin.
“It opens up a whole lot more opportunities around both business and tourism to be able to get down here quickly.”
Otago Daily Times