Flights return to Aoraki

23:48, Dec 23 2012
mt cook flights standard
TAKE-OFF: The first commercial flight to Mt Cook in 15 years took place yesterday.

Aoraki Mt Cook put on stunning blue skies for the first scenic flight from Christchurch to Mt Cook in 15 years yesterday.

The passengers were treated to the first Air NZ commercial flight into the newly refurbished Mt Cook airfield since the service was stopped due to failing demand and more pressing need for aircraft in other parts of the country.

The flight was close to full, with 57 passengers taking the Christchurch to Mt Cook leg of the trip on the 68-seat ATR-72 plane.

It flew on to Queenstown before returning to Christchurch via Mt Cook later in the day.

The Hermitage Aoraki Mount Cook hotel general manager Nigel Harper said the weather was ''brilliant'' and the passengers had a good view of the mountains.

The hotel owns the airfield and had spent $50,000 to prepare it for commercial flights. 

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Most of the passengers appeared to be Kiwis, he said, with some stopping for lunch at the hotel before catching the return trip back to Christchurch in the afternoon.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said the flight was aimed at tourists and offered a convenient way of seeing several popular South Island visitor destinations.

The service would run three times a week until January 27 and there were no plans to make it a year-round route.

It could become a regular seasonal passage if it was popular enough, she said.

The Press