New Air New Zealand flights boost tourism recovery

More international Air New Zealand flights are being added to regional Queensland airport schedules to support the Queensland Government’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said year-round trans-Tasman flights had been secured for the Sunshine and Gold Coasts and Cairns.

“The deal we’ve sealed with Air New Zealand is great news for Kiwi travellers and Queensland tourism operators,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

”By extending direct flights through to May 2022 from Auckland and Christchurch we expect to support almost 250 jobs and deliver at least $17 million to Queensland’s visitor economy.

“The new flights add more than 26,000 seats to the flight schedules of three regional international airports as part of the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to helping tourism to rebuild better.

“It’s part of our investment of more than $860 million in direct support for the tourism industry’s Economic Recovery Plan.

“We’ve been able to move to year-round flights across the ditch because we’ve followed the expert medical advice to make Queensland a safe travel destination.”

“Member for Caloundra Jason Hunt said the Air New Zealand deal would be warmly welcomed by Sunshine Coast tourism operators.

“I know we’ll be rolling out the welcome mat for our Kiwi visitors who have always enjoyed the Sunshine Coast’s laid back family atmosphere and sandy beaches” Mr Hunt said.

Member for Nicklin Rob Skelton said the new flights had great potential for the Sunshine Coast.

“With many New Zealanders having family and friends living on the Coast, these flights will make it even easier to plan a visit and beat the tail end of the Kiwi winter,” Mr Skelton said.

Member for Cairns and Assistant Tourism Minister Michael Healy said the extended flight schedule followed $10 million in the Budget for securing aviation routes.

“Queensland’s Good to Go campaign has been screening across the ditch,” Mr Healy said.

“The iconic images of reef snorkelling and rainforests can be experienced in real life – here in Cairns – within just a few hours of departing Auckland.”

Extended scheduled seasonal services with Air New Zealand include Auckland to Cairns, Auckland to the Sunshine Coast and Christchurch to the Gold Coast.

Air New Zealand General Manager Sales Australia Paul McLean said the airline is delighted to be able to offer its customers year-round access to some of Queensland’s most popular destinations.

“In 2019, around 500,000 trips were taken from New Zealand to Queensland, and Air New Zealand flew around half of these customers,” he said.

“We know Kiwis love to escape to Queensland’s warmer climes during the cooler winter months, and many Australians already take advantage of the ski season in New Zealand.

For Queenslanders, extending to year-round direct services means good connections onto our domestic network and the chance to explore other parts of the country during the shoulder season.”

Sunshine Coast Airport Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Brodie, said the announcement of a year-round service was a strong vote of confidence in the region.

“Today’s announcement delivers on a long-held ambition to secure Air New Zealand flights to Auckland year-round, and our new, internationally capable runway will allow the service to operate without weight restrictions,” Mr Brodie said.

Queensland Airports Limited Chief Executive Officer Chris Mills welcomed the government funding, saying it would further boost services between the Gold Coast and Christchurch – offering more options and more competitive pricing for passengers in a key market.

“We are seeing the trans-Tasman market gradually rebuild, as travellers become more confident, and aviation recovery funding will assist further with this,” he said.

“This comes as New Zealanders are looking to holiday somewhere warmer like the Gold Coast and Queenslanders are looking to book their next adventure holiday in the snow.”

Cairns Airport Chief Executive Richard Barker said the new year-round services would provide further opportunity to really grow connectivity between Cairns and Auckland.

“Year-round services will provide the opportunity to significantly increase the number of NZ visitors to the Far North every week,” he said.

“The support of the Queensland Government in securing these flights will encourage many of our friends across the Tasman to come and experience the magic of Tropical North Queensland.

“These flights are an important step in the support and recovery of the Far North’s economy.”

Before the pandemic, Kiwis contributed $600 million to Queensland’s visitor economy.

“Unforgettable Queensland holiday experiences have always been a favourite with New Zealanders,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“Year-round flights mean Queensland is always Good to Go.”