Flights to Queenstown resume

By Matthew Martin


Bigger planes and a shorter flight are on offer between Rotorua and Queenstown, via Christchurch, now Air New Zealand has committed to an improved service over the summer.

Rotorua International Airport chief executive George White said Air New Zealand Boeing 737 flights from Rotorua to Queenstown, via Christchurch, resumed in Rotorua on October 27 and would run until March 23.

Mr White said Air New Zealand's announcement was the result of many months of hard work by Rotorua tourism providers, the airport and Destination Rotorua Marketing. One of the airline's three daily twin-engine turboprop short-haul regional airliner services on the Rotorua-Christchurch-Queenstown route has been replaced by the Boeing 737 for some of the flights this summer.

Mr White said the "high-season upgrade" to a Boeing 737 service meant a 27 per cent increase in capacity between Rotorua and Christchurch and a 14 per cent increase between Christchurch and Queenstown.

Air New Zealand Australasia group general manager Bruce Parton said the company was pleased to reinstate a jet service linking two of New Zealand's most popular tourism destinations for the peak summer season.

"Customers booking on the 737 service between Rotorua and Queenstown will also enjoy a reduction in the total time of their journey of approximately half an hour," he said.

Destination Rotorua Marketing general manager Oscar Nathan said it would be great if the Rotorua community could support the service and spread the word to friends and family saying the flights were available to help the destination make the most of the increased flight capacity.

"With the flights starting a little over three weeks ago, it will take time to build up demand as the flight is increasing capacity by as much as 27 per cent between Rotorua and Christchurch.

"The intention is that on top of the forward promotion already undertaken, coupled with the economy improving and Christchurch connections coming back to normal levels, bookings will build over time and the service will become more viable and permanent."

Mr Nathan said while it was great to see Air New Zealand showing further confidence in Rotorua it was disappointing the service had not immediately hit the levels of demand initially expected.

"But in the current environment this can be expected and as a result some 737 flights have reverted to traditional aircraft when the larger capacity jet service is not required," he said.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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