Mr Edghill says that the trans-Tasman service will be a huge plus for Australian skiers and holidaymakers.
“Evening flights will mean more flexibility in flight times from Melbourne which will help Australian holidaymakers to make the most of their time in our region,” Mr Edghill says. “They can jump on a daily direct flight and be here in three hours, with five different ski fields and a range of world-class experiences to choose from.
“Keen skiers and boarders will no longer have to cut short their day on the slopes, as they can get a full day on the mountain before hopping on a direct flight back to Australia in the evening.”
Year-round, Australians account for 69 per cent of Queenstown Airport’s international passenger numbers but in the peak winter months the market share increases to 80 per cent. Passengers on the Melbourne-Queenstown route were up 15 per cent in the 12 months to February 2016, with a significant spike over the peak winter months of July and August.
Mr Edghill said a more evenly spread international flight schedule during winter would ease pressure on airport facilities and provide a more relaxed passenger experience.
“Due to time differences and airport curfews, the majority of our international flights currently arrive between midday and 3pm and need to depart before it gets dark at about 5pm,” Mr Edghill says. “This creates an intense period of activity in order to get aircraft turned around.
“We’re delighted with Jetstar’s plan to shift flights across to evening slots and thank the airline for its continued support and commitment to provide our passengers with more choice and flexibility.”
Jetstar has been a key partner in the airport’s evening flights working group, comprising technical experts from QAC, airlines, Airways New Zealand and risk management experts Navigatus Consulting. The group collaboratively prepared the airport’s comprehensive evening flights safety case which was ultimately accepted by Civil Aviation authorities on both sides of the Tasman in May 2014.
The airport and Airways are well down the track of implementing the infrastructure and stringent safety measures required to make evening flights a reality for winter 2016.