Jetstar will start the first international after-dark flights into Queenstown tonight.

Its Melbourne-Queenstown service is due to touch down in the resort town at 7.20pm.

The airline said inaugural winter evening service is over 90 per cent full with more than 160 passengers booked on the flight, which is scheduled to arrive just after the official opening of Queenstown's Winter Festival tonight.

Jetstar head of New Zealand, Grant Kerr, said the flight would be the culmination of many years of work by the airline's safety and flight operations teams.


"Jetstar was part of the working group that helped to prepare a foundation safety case on Queenstown after-dark flights and subsequently our own operator safety case," Kerr said.

Kerr said Queenstown was one of the airline's most popular destinations.

"Queenstown provides a world class visitor experience year-round and our new after-dark flights offer even more options for travellers to make the most of their time when they visit.

"The new flights enable winter holiday-makers to fully utilise their time off by departing Melbourne in the afternoon and spending a full day on the slopes before flying home at night."

Jetstar's daily winter season JQ 219 service departs Melbourne at 2.05pm and arrives in Queenstown at 7.20pm. The return service JQ 220 departs Queenstown at 8.20pm, arriving in Melbourne at 9.55pm.

Jetstar is the second-biggest airline operator in Queenstown with up to 17 international return services a week from Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast and up to 16 domestic return flights a week from Auckland. Flights are operated using Airbus A320 aircraft.
Between March and October Jetstar operates around 700 return international and domestic services to Queenstown.

Air New Zealand began operating domestic night flights last month.

Night flights are possible following the installation of new runway, taxiway, approach and apron lights, part of a wider $19.6 million airport runway infrastructure upgrade.