Christmas boost for flight numbers to Queenstown

International flights by four carriers are heading to Queenstown from the Australian eastern seaboard for New Year.

Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia have scheduled flights to and from Queenstown, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane this week, one of the busiest periods of the year for Queenstown Airport.

Passenger numbers at the airport are expected to increase by 8 per cent between December and March compared with the same quarter last year.

Five private jets, including two Gulfstreams, were parked on the apron yesterday although earlier this month airport chief executive Scott Paterson said there was no more room to park private jets.

Queenstown Airport spokeswoman Nina Crawford said a steady flow of private jets had arrived at the airport from across New Zealand, Australia, Japan and other countries since Christmas Eve.

Depending on the size of the jets, a maximum of seven private aircraft could park, she said.

Passengers were heading to New Zealand this weekend for a New Year break in Queenstown, with airport movements hitting 41 arrivals and departures today and 44 on Sunday.

"The really busy day is Sunday. Ten of those movements are international flights," Ms Crawford said.

"We're going up all the time. Summer has traditionally been the overall busier time but we won't know until the end of summer."

The number of arrivals and departures increased compared with last year, with 268 aircraft movements compared with 254 last year between Christmas Eve and the end of December.

The airport is the fastest-growing aerodrome in the country.

Overall, passenger numbers increased by 18 per cent in the last year across domestic and international markets.

Evening flights by Air New Zealand have started, offering travellers a 7pm Queenstown-Auckland service.

They double as a test run for extended operating hours at the aerodrome.

The Southland Times