Flights to Queenstown boosted to cater for ski season

Australian national airline Qantas is boosting its flights between Sydney and Queenstown to increase seats for skiers and snowboarders.

Yesterday, Qantas chief executive Simon Hickey announced extra weekly flights would begin at Easter, then increase to daily during the ski season.

"Qantas will add more than 650 seats each week. Our seasonal services reflect the continued popularity of the surrounding skifields and will represent a boost to the New Zealand tourism industry."

NZSki general manager of sales and marketing, Craig Douglas, said the company, which owns the Coronet Peak and Remarkables ski areas, was very pleased with the announcement.

"Obviously, more capacity and connectivity to Australia is great for us, and for the growth of all the winter industries in Queenstown."

Queenstown-based Real Journeys will venture into its first season as a skifield operator this year, after buying the Cardrona Alpine Resort last year. The company is one of Queenstown's tourism giants, operating the TSS Earnslaw, cruises throughout the Milford Sound area and coach tours.

Real Journeys chief executive Richard Lauder said the new flights would undoubtedly have a great spill-on effect for the entire region's tourism industry.

"As the new owners of Cardrona Alpine Resort, Real Journeys is very encouraged by the Qantas announcement Cardrona is already popular with Australian visitors - the provision of additional flights illustrates that there is continued demand for ski options in the Queenstown and Wanaka area."

Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd said the news was heartening for Queenstown's growing status as an international winter destination.

"Increasing flight capacity creates certainty and ease for Australians planning a winter break in Queenstown."

Queenstown Airport Corporation chief executive Scott Paterson was delighted with the announcement of the extra flights - and was already working on ways to make them permanent.

"The extra capacity over our peak winter months will be particularly welcome and makes us even more attractive to Sydney-siders looking to hop across the Tasman for a winter ski holiday. We'll be working closely with Qantas to maximise this opportunity and to make these daily flights become permanent."

Qantas now flies three trips a week between Sydney and Queenstown. Two additional flights each week will begin from April 7 to May 2 and an extra flight will be added from June 6 to July 2. Daily flights begin from July 4 to October 24.


The Southland Times