More people will be able to fly into Rotorua next summer with Air New Zealand announcing jet services are to return to the city.
Air New Zealand has announced it will fly a Boeing 737 between Rotorua, Christchurch and Queenstown six days a week from the end of next year.
At the moment, the airline operates three ATR services daily between the three destinations, and one will be replaced with the Boeing 737.
The change will provide a 27 per cent increase in capacity between Rotorua and Christchurch, and a 14 per cent increase between Christchurch and Queenstown. The number of seats available weekly each way will increase from about 1428 to 1818.
Rotorua International Airport chief executive officer George White said this would significantly increase the capacity on one of the most important tourism routes in New Zealand - Rotorua to Queenstown.
"The increased capacity means there is more room for extra visitors, while the bigger plane means [it] cuts 30 minutes off the flying time ... Visitors' travel will be quicker and easier, and they will have more time on the ground to explore the region, instead of sitting on highways."
Mr White said the announcement was the result of months of hard work by people in the Rotorua and Central Park tourism industries, the airport and Destination Rotorua Marketing.
"This has been a team effort, with many different people involved. It's been fantastic to see the industry work together to achieve this positive result for the region."
The news was also welcomed by Christchurch International Airport (CIAL).
CIAL general manager of aeronautical business development Matthew Findlay said the airline's additional capacity would enhance the flow of tourists into the South Island.
"Offering more capacity on flights from the geothermal wonders of Rotorua to the stunning South Island scenery will be very attractive to those Asian tourists."
Rotorua Deputy Mayor Trevor Maxwell said "it was very, very good news".
He was in Wellington at an influential conference with 500 North American travel writers.
Mr Maxwell said senior executives of Air New Zealand were also at the conference and he would definitely be congratulating them on the announcement.
He also agreed there had been a lot of hard work done by Rotorua in getting the improved service.
"That had always been on our radar."
He said the improved service to Queenstown, via Christchurch, was great news for Rotorua International Airport, which had been going through some tough times.
The boosted services will operate six days a week, Monday to Thursday, and weekends. The flights will leave Rotorua in the afternoon and depart Queenstown in the morning.