Queenstown night flights ready for take-off
Night flights into Queenstown have been given the green light.
Successful testing at the airport has encouraged Air New Zealand to start evening flights in just over a fortnight, and the long-awaited upgrade will be welcomed by tourists.
Surrounded by mountains and lakes, passengers flying into the adventure capital get a breath-taking view at what's been voted the most scenic runway approach in the world.
But those approaches are also some of the most challenging for pilots.
"The commercial airlines that fly in here have highly trained pilots," says Pauline Lamb, Airways NZ Chief Operating Officer.
"They've got good equipment on board, and now we've got the right infrastructure on the ground to support that safe environment."
The $18 million project to get evening flights at Queenstown Airport is now finally ready for take-off.
The runway's been extended and resurfaced, and new navigation systems introduced.
And last night Transport Minister Simon Bridges officially switched on the new runway lights that'll greet passengers flying into the resort town.
"I think it's going to be a game-changer for Queenstown," he says.
"Because fundamentally what the lights mean is many more planes are going to be able to get in here, and from international as well."
The after-dark setup's been signed off by Airways and the Civil Aviation Authority.
It'll be a huge boost especially for the winter market, where shorter days mean the airport shuts down before teatime.
"Air New Zealand will be the first domestic evening flight, and Jetstar will be the first international evening flight, so I guess they both win," says Mark Edghill, Queenstown Airport acting chief executive.
It will provide an extra boost for the country's fastest growing airport.