Airport readies for night flights

Last updated 23:17 05/06/2008

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Queenstown Airport Corporation plans to have night lights installed for summer, allowing flights to arrive until midnight.

Chief executive Steve Sanderson said being unable to operate after dark was restrictive, especially during the winter.

"We have talked to the operators about it; we believe there is a demand," he said.

"It comes back to taking the pressure off the airline, especially in the winter time." The extended hours would target short-term trans-Tasman visitors, who would rather avoid an overnight stop in Christchurch, he said.

Last month, Mr Sanderson unveiled a proposal that would expand the airport's noise boundary and extend the arrival curfew from 10pm to midnight.

However, for any night flights to take place, lights on the runway and passenger embarkment areas were needed, he said.

Some Frankton residents who lived near the airport, expressed concern about the safety of night flights.

Janet Rutherford, who runs Glenorchy Air scenic flights with her husband Robert, said night flights could be dangerous and would be disastrous for the whole valley.

"Night flights would be awful," she said.

Civil Aviation spokesman Bill Summers said they had been approached by Air New Zealand about night flights to Queenstown.

Although "a lot of issues would have to be addressed' such flights could be made safe, he said.

"They do approach Queenstown in heavy weather ... it's a similar situation at night," he said.

Air New Zealand spokeswoman Tracey Palmer said the company was exploring evening flights in Queenstown but would not confirm whether any extra flights were in the pipeline.

"Air New Zealand is exploring the operational and infrastructure requirements for evening flights into Queenstown, should we decide to pursue any such opportunity," Ms Palmer said.

Mr Sanderson was not aware of any plans for extra flights at this stage.

Qantas was unavailable for comment before publication.


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