Queenstown Airport has busiest ever winter

Queenstown Airport has busiest ever winter
By admin


Queenstown Airport handled a record number of passengers over winter as it benefited from increased flights and capacity, prompting it to install a $NZ450,000 ($A418,935) "pop-up" structure for international passengers as it finalises plans for expanding its terminal.

Trans-Tasman flights were 25% ahead of last winter, with the airport hitting a record 20 international flights on several days during peak times in July and August.

Passenger numbers rose 7.9% to 354,392 in the three months through August, compared with the same period a year earlier, according to the company's monthly passenger data.

Queenstown Airport, the gateway to the Southern Lakes region, is heading for record passenger numbers in calendar 2014, surpassing 2013 which was itself the busiest on record.

The airport is handling more passengers as it benefits from airlines such as Air New Zealand, Qantas Airways and its subsidiary, Jetstar, and Virgin Australia adding more flights and larger planes from Australia.

The region is luring more visitors thanks to its snowfields and other outdoor adventure activities as well as key events such as the annual Winter Festival, the New Zealand Golf Open and the upcoming inaugural Queenstown International Marathon.

"Passenger-wise it's very busy," said chief executive Scott Paterson.

"We were very busy, a very hectic little international airport during winter."

The passenger throughput was even more extraordinary given the airport has a daylight curfew which prohibits flights beyond about 5.30pm in winter, he said.

The latest data shows Queenstown passenger numbers in the year through August are tracking five per cent ahead of the year earlier period, led by a 30% gain in international passenger volumes.

Jetstar is scheduled to start a new three-day-a-week service from the Gold Coast in Australia in December, while other airlines are expected to advise of their winter services in a couple of months, he said.

The airport company expects to sign off on plans for a new terminal in the next couple of weeks, and have it completed by next June in time for the peak winter season.

In future years, the airport expects to benefit from after-dark flying in winter, which would reduce congestion.

New Zealand and Australian aviation authorities have given provisional approval to night operations, but they are unlikely to be introduced before winter 2016, Paterson said.

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

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