Eagle Air pulls out of Wanaka

Eagle Air's decision to pull the pin on its Christchurch to Wanaka flights is a disappointing surprise for Lake Wanaka Tourism, but the organisation says the fallout will not be significant.

The Air New Zealand subsidiary has announced its daily return flights between Christchurch and Wanaka will end on January 30 next year.

General manager Carrie Hurihanganui said the service had lost money since it was introduced in 2004 and was not expected to break even in the near future.

The regional tourism organisation's general manager James Helmore said he had worked closely with Air New Zealand to ensure the viability of the service and it came as a surprise to learn it was operating at a loss.

Mr Helmore anticipated losing the service would affect some tourists coming to Wanaka in winter,  but he doubted there would be an impact on summer visitors who tended to travel to the town by road as part of a South Island tour.

He said Eagle Air's Christchurch to Wanaka flights only brought up to 19 people a day to Wanaka, while there were 25,000 return seats into Queenstown a week.

Lake Wanaka Tourism already focused on bringing people from Queenstown Airport to the town, promoting the use of rental vehicles or one of the approximately six bus services which operate a day.

"In reality, overseas people are used to travelling well in excess of an hour from an airport to their destination."

Mr Helmore said the organisation would now work to ensure airlines also promoted these options to passengers.

The Southland Times