The success of Air New Zealand and alliance partner Virgin Australia flights between Auckland and Sunshine Coast Airport last winter has resulted in the airline signing up to a new extended season in 2013.
Flights will re-commence on 18 June – but this time, they will continue for 17 weeks. That’s five weeks longer than the 2012 season – and they will run until 13 October.
The services will again be operated by Air New Zealand as part of a trans-Tasman alliance with Virgin Australia. Two flights a week to and from Auckland will commence on a seasonal service, connecting seamlessly with the airlines’ extensive domestic and international networks, in particular to North America.
“That’s an extra 3000 seats available for New Zealand tourists to visit our wonderful Sunshine Coast region, as well as a great opportunity for locals to enjoy a winter skiing trip to New Zealand – or a northern summer trip to Disneyland in Los Angeles, directly from the Sunshine Coast,” Mayor Mark Jamieson said.
“It also means that, all things being equal, the $14.5 million last season generated for our region will increase to nearly $20 million.
“This announcement is wonderful news and will cement our new relations with the great city of Auckland.
“It justifies our investment into Sunshine Coast Airport’s development of an international terminal.”
Air New Zealand Group General Manager Australasia Bruce Parton said the Sunshine Coast has long been a haven for Kiwis wanting a break from the long New Zealand winter and the direct service allows them to visit without the 1.5 hour drive each way from Brisbane.
“Destination Sunshine Coast is rapidly growing in popularity and demand for the service is expected to exceed this year’s figures as awareness of the route grows”.
Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd (SCDL) CEO Steve Cooper welcomed news Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia will extend their services next year following a successful trial in 2012.
“The return of this direct service with an extended season in 2013 demonstrates the undeniable demand for Kiwis to visit the Sunshine Coast.
New Zealand is the number one international market for the Sunshine Coast with 76,000 Kiwis travelling to the region last financial year,” he said.
This is a real boost of confidence for our region and tourism industry,” added Mr Cooper.
The Queensland Government has welcomed the additional flights. Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games Jann Stuckey said the twice-weekly seasonal service would open the skies for an additional 3,000 New Zealanders to fly direct to the Sunshine Coast.
“Almost 90 per cent of the passengers who took advantage of this year’s 12-week trial were Kiwis opting for a Sunshine Coast escape, which is a terrific result for everyone involved,” Ms Stuckey said.
“New Zealand is the number one international market for the Sunshine Coast with 76,000 Kiwis travelling to the region last financial year.”
Ms Stuckey said the Newman Government was committed to increasing flights into the State, with the $8 million Attracting Aviation Investment Fund delivering great results to the tourism industry.
“Our Government is working hard to secure additional flights. Since March we have seen Qantas, Etihad, Scoot and China Eastern Airlines extend services to Queensland, boosting tourism right across the State,” she said.