It took two years of work and a committed partnership between Sunshine Coast Airport, Sunshine Coast Destination Limited, Auckland Airport, and of course Air New Zealand.
And today, the fruits of that partnership flew into Sunshine Coast Airport carrying the first-ever cabin-full of New Zealanders seeking winter refuge and a wonderful holiday experience non-stop to the Sunshine Coast.
“Today begins a new era for our regional airport with this first-ever international scheduled passenger flight to the Sunshine Coast,” Mayor Mark Jamieson said.
“We now have a new message to send to the nation and the world: that we are open for international business.
“Sunshine Coast Airport, its wellbeing and its expansion are a cornerstone project for this region as we strive to secure its economic sustainability. Today’s inaugural flight spells a game-changer in terms of our tourism, our trading and our self-confidence as a region.
“I congratulate the wonderful partnership which has brought this about and look forward to the success of this seasonal service – as Air New Zealand promotes it across the Ditch, so too will we encourage our local population to visit the excellent ski fields of our close friends and neighbours.”
Air New Zealand’s General Manager Australia, Cam Wallace, travelled on the inaugural service which is part of the trans-Tasman alliance between Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia.
“It was a great flight for us and we look forward to welcoming the thousands of passengers who will make this journey between now and when the season ends in mid-September.
“This new service is already proving popular and I know that both New Zealanders and Sunshine Coasters are going to enjoy its benefits.
“For Kiwis, it’s a quick hop across the Tasman to land virtually on the beach and cut out the commute from other airports. For Sunshine Coast it opens the opportunity of a long weekend in New Zealand, or for those wanting to head further away the service will connect seamlessly with North America and from there to the rest of the world.”
Sunshine Coast Destination Limited CEO Steve Cooper applauded the new flight service.
“The Sunshine Coast is, in one fell swoop, elevated from a regional economy to a serious player on the national and world stages,” he said.
“New Zealand is the number one international tourism market for the Sunshine Coast, accounting for 30% of our international visitors. It is estimated these seasonal flights will add another 50,000 new room nights and a huge cash injection for the region.
“Our region offers a natural advantage as a safe and clean destination with the added bonus of a warmer climate for our Kiwi friends with this seasonal service running over the winter months.
“From the playground of Caloundra in the south, the soul of the hinterland in the west to the heart of activity in Mooloolaba and the sophisticated lifestyle of Noosa, the Sunshine Coast region has something for everyone,” Mr Cooper said
Auckland Airport General Manager Aeronautical Commercial, Glenn Wedlock, said he was pleased to see one of Air New Zealand’s planes wing its way to our shores.
“It’s great to have a connection to a new market and to the expansive Air New Zealand and Virgin network which also offers opportunities to promote the United States and Pacific Island connections across Auckland,” he said.
“Having Air New Zealand deliver the service also offers great choice from seat-only to the full works.
“Response from the market has been great so far, and we look forward to helping to build the service both inbound and outbound. Kiwis love their warmer weather, the Sunshine Coast beaches and hinterland, Fraser Island and whale-watching and the many other attractions of the region and will be very excited by this new service.
“And the Sunshine Coast also offers a great opportunity for Auckland and New Zealand to show off its attractions as well. This is great news for tourism,” Mr Wedlock said
Sunshine Coast Airport General Manager Peter Pallot said the last 125 days had been hectic in getting the new international terminal completed in time for the inaugural Air New Zealand flight.
“The team here pulled together and we celebrated the terminal’s opening last Wednesday,” he said.
“The result is fantastic; we now have our first international scheduled passenger flight arrival.
“We are now ready to attract further business from both domestic and international destinations, we have just completed a new helipad and the next few years will see us add a new aerospace industry precinct in time for the proposed new runway due later this decade.”
Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia have launched these flights to the Sunshine Coast as part of their trans-Tasman alliance, which sees them code-share on all flights between Australia and New Zealand, providing guests with more choice and more destinations.