Air New Zealand plans to begin evening operations into and out of Queenstown from July 1 2016.
The airline said on Wednesday it planned to operate Airbus A320s between Auckland and Queenstown from 0700 until 2130, subject to obtaining the necessary approvals from regulators. The new schedule represented 10,000 more seats, or a 15 per cent increase in capacity, on the Auckland-Queenstown city-pair in 2016/17.
“We have been working collaboratively with the regulator, Queenstown Airport, our pilots and safety teams and unions to finalise a thorough operator safety case which will be submitted to the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority in the near future,” Air NZ chief of flight operations and safety officer Captain David Morgan said in a statement.
In May 2014, New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) granted provisional approval for Queenstown Airport to extend its operating hours into night flight operations, subject to subject to the airport meeting a number of conditions such as runway improvements and the installation of a comprehensive aeronautical lighting package.
Construction work began in November 2015 and was expected to be completed by April 2016.
Other requirements from the NZ CAA and Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) also included a customised crew selection and training package; employing the full capability of the existing Required Navigation Performance (RNP) technology; and changes to on-board flight procedures to reduce pilot workload on final approach.
Air NZ chief sales and commercial officer Cam Wallace evening flights to and from Queenstown would offer customers more options, particularly for international travellers through the Star Alliance member’s Auckland hub.
“We believe our proposed Queenstown schedule will be a game-changer for international travellers in particular with same day connections as well as reduced connection times both to and from a range of destinations across Australia, Asia and North America,” Wallace said in a statement.
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