Long wait for flights continues
GRANT BRYANT IN QUEENSTOWN
Three Brisbane-bound passengers have been stranded in Queenstown since Saturday and may not get back home until today at the earliest.
The travellers' long wait started when Virgin flight DJ110 was diverted from Queenstown to Dunedin because of bad weather.
The flight then went back to Brisbane, leaving 115 Queenstown passengers at the resort.
The jet was needed back in Australia, and flew back empty, Virgin corporate communications manager Emma Copeman said yesterday.
"From [Dunedin], the aircraft was flown back to Brisbane in order to ensure it was available to operate the next trans-Tasman flights," she said.
"They were re-accommodated in a variety of different ways, some of them went on a Queenstown-Christchurch flight that day, and then on to Brisbane from there. Others were bused up to Dunedin the next morning for Dunedin-Brisbane services."
The three remaining passengers from the original Saturday flight were booked to leave Queenstown yesterday, but a snowstorm that hit the resort left them stranded for at least another night.
Those three passengers had elected to stay in Queenstown rather than take alternate flights or be bused to Dunedin, Ms Copeman said.
Rumours flight DJ110 had tried to land in Queenstown on Saturday after dropping passengers in Dunedin were quashed yesterday by the New Zealand Airways Corporation, which controls air traffic control towers and air traffic nationwide.
Corporation spokeswoman Phillipa Sellens said the Queenstown Airport control tower was "staffed and prepared" during all operational hours on Saturday.
But the three passengers stranded in the resort since Saturday had now found themselves with company, as a heavy snowstorm diverted all but one flight in the morning and another scheduled for late afternoon yesterday.
Both Jetstar and Air New Zealand scheduled extra flights today to deal with the backlog of passengers.
While the three passengers who stayed in the resort could not be located, two Australian tourists waiting for their girlfriends to arrive from Christchurch, who did not want to be named, were annoyed by the delays and said they would be finding the nearest pub to drink in until they arrived.
They were relieved to find out that Christchurch was not at the top of the South Island as they thought, but near the middle.
"Hopefully that'll make it quicker," they said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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