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Night curfew to lift at Queenstown airport

It will be two more winter seasons before Queenstown Airport can be open all hours.

Civil aviation authorities in New Zealand and Australia have approved lifting the airport’s daylight-only status subject to the runway being widened from 30m to 45m and installing new runway, taxiway, approach and off-airport lights. Navigation equipment for night flights is already installed.

Effectively, it means the airport will be able to handle late evening flights, Queenstown Airport chief executive Scott Paterson says.

“Evening flights would be a huge plus for travellers and for local businesses, particularly in the busy winter months,” he says.

“Extending the airport’s operating window would give travellers more flexibility, provide better connectivity across airline networks, and improve their airport experience – peak times would be more spread, with less pressure on facilities and services.”
The move, which has been welcomed by airlines, pilots and tourism organisations, will enable the airport to distribute more evenly the peak load.

It will also require the introduction of more shifts to ground staff and the likes of rental car operators, potentially adding significant numbers to the 300 people already working in and around Queenstown Airport.

Mr Paterson says a winter evening flight schedule will be like extending the summer flight window. The airport is already approved to operate until 10pm during daylight

“For leisure travellers it would make weekend holidays from Auckland and Australia possible year-round. It would also give business people more flexibility with their travel plans and potentially allow people to base themselves in Queenstown and commute to other main centres for work,” Mr Paterson says

Queenstown has experienced passenger growth of 30% over the past three years, ranking it behind only Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in significance.

Annual passenger numbers reached 1.2 million in the 2013 financial year.

According to New Zealand Airports Association research (2013), the economic benefits associated with Queenstown Airport are almost $275 million per year and this is now expected to grow.

Qantas and Jetstar have both boosted direct flights from Australia for the 2014 skiing season.

More by Nevil Gibson

Comments and questions

May I suggest to the already under siege residents of Queenstown that they either make the most of the next two years and then move to Wanaka, or they get a curfew written into local governance.
Forget the CAA, the greedy airlines and airports, the only noise they hear is the banging of till draws.
Auckland stupidly conceded (well, first Banksie and then Len's mates needed a favour) on heights and then on the 10 AM curfew. Now it is 24/7 mayhem in the former residential areas. And as the airlines dribble and froth.....this is just the beginning pal. Drink up the bonuses.

Finally CHOICE for the traveller / tourist / commuter. About time too.
First airline to action night flights will have massive 1st mover advantage - my bet JetStar will lead the way.
God bless Wanaka.

.....He has, by having the little god, Greed, move the noise to Queenstown and keep it there, all the while making it bigger and louder. First Auckland gave them our leaky homes and now with the same crappy system as we have at Auckland International, they'll have the 320s which really struggle to stay in the sky once the gps hooks up. Awful times ahead if you live anywhere in the valley.

I have never read such drivel.... Please refrain from making comments about aircraft technical capability and aeronautical integrity. The A320 is an incredibly safe and efficient narrow body aircraft. No wonder it will be the only type operating within NZ by the end of 2015.

CAANZ expressed confidence and the NZ Airline Pilots Association welcomes the airport upgrade and evening operation.

As expressed previously, this is great news for Queenstown,

Can not wait - the leave Sydney 6pm Friday arrive Q'town 11-12pm will be fantastic!!

Bertie; there us already a curfew in place at Queenstown; 2200 through 0600. So tell me this, if an a/c can already takeoff and land at 2100 in daylight during summer, how is thus different during darkness at 2100 in winter for residents?

This is great news for Queenstown whichever way you look at it....