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.