May 23 2022 by Glen Sowry
Today was a good day!
I was delighted to watch QF121 from Sydney touch down at Queenstown Airport this afternoon. It was the first scheduled trans-Tasman flight into ZQN in 330 days after the bubble popped in June 2021.
Aussies are keen to visit the lower South Island and our airport community and local businesses are even more excited to welcome them back. The return of trans-Tasman flights and the confidence we now have that the border will remain open is an important step in the airport’s and the region’s recovery after an incredibly challenging two years.
We have been keeping in close contact with all of our partner airlines and they are telling us that there is strong demand from Australia and activity into ZQN is expected to ramp up significantly as winter approaches. Airlines have scheduled capacity on trans-Tasman routes at about 75% of pre-Covid levels for winter, and they will be monitoring demand going forward. Over the winter season capacity on domestic routes is similar to last year.
Travellers leaving Queenstown will also get to experience the larger departures screening area, and new international departures Duty-Free store which have been completed over the past 12 months as part of our terminal upgrade project.
Looking to the future one thing has not changed.
Queenstown Airport’s greatest attribute and strategic value is its location in the heart of the Southern Lakes providing visitors with convenient access to the region. Our domestic and Australian travellers highly value the ability to fly directly into Queenstown.
We are currently working on our strategic business plan and associated airport master plan for the next ten years and beyond. The opportunity to think deeply about the airport, its future shape and operations, and its ongoing contribution to the social and economic wellbeing of the district is timely.
No one in Queenstown needs reminding the world has fundamentally changed in the past two years and the shape of the recovery and the role of ZQN airport in that recovery is core to our emerging strategic plan.
As I’ve already publicly stated, we will not be seeking to expand the noise boundaries at ZQN. Advances in aircraft technology, including Air New Zealand’s introduction of NEO (New Engine Option) powered A320 and A321 aircraft means quieter planes flying into the airport which is a positive development for the community and the potential to grow capacity in the years ahead within our noise boundaries.
These NEO powered aircraft are also more fuel efficient and therefore more sustainable. Encouragingly, Qantas have also announced they are buying NEO aircraft which over time we will see here in ZQN.
CEO - Queenstown Airport Corporation