First direct trans-Tasman flight lands just in time for ski season

qantas plane taking off from queenstown airport

After 330 days, the first direct international flight into Queenstown arrived on Monday 23 May from Sydney.

Qantas flight QF121 was the first scheduled service to arrive directly into Queenstown since the trans-Tasman bubble paused on July 30, 2021.

With the ski season officially kicking off on 11 June with the opening of Cardrona Alpine Resort, the resumption of the SYD-ZQN flights are a welcome return and an important step towards tourism recovery in Queenstown.

Read: Ski Australia and New Zealand on a budget

“We are delighted that Queenstown has welcomed back the first direct flight from Australia today,” says Richard Thomas, Destination Queenstown chair.

“The flight today was at capacity and there are strong signs of pent-up demand for travel to Queenstown from Australia, which brings us confidence it will be a great ski season ahead. We are looking forward to seeing the region and our local businesses bustling again with domestic and international visitors.”

Read: Discover New Zealand’s best winter attractions

Queenstown has always been a popular destination for Australians, particularly over the winter season. Pre-COVID, the Australian market made up 40 per cent of total international expenditure and the largest proportion of international visitation to Queenstown (more than 30 per cent).

Mr Thomas continues: “While ski is a major drawcard, Queenstown has plenty to offer those looking for a quintessential NZ escape. Whether warming up fireside with a glass of Pinot Noir in hand or soaking in the hot springs overlooking the Shotover River canyon, winter here is truly a magical time of year.”

Read: Eat, stay, love: Queenstown

Celebrations were waiting for passengers as they disembarked the inaugural flight including welcome gifts for all and live music from local band Mojo.

Jetstar is set to resume its services to Queenstown on 2 June, followed by Air New Zealand on 24 June. Virgin Australia has plans to re-start services to Queenstown in November.

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