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Jetstar plans evening Melbourne-Queenstown service

written by australianaviation.com.au | April 7, 2016

Jetstar will soon have a new chief pilot. (Rob Finlayson)
A file image of a Jetstar Airbus A320. (Rob Finlayson)

Jetstar is the second airline to schedule evening flights into and out of Queenstown Airport.

The Qantas-owned low-cost carrier plans to operate a daily Melbourne-Queenstown service with Airbus A320s from June 24 that lands at the popular New Zealand tourist destination at 1920 local time, before turning around and returning to Australia at 2020.

The schedule will be in place until August 31, Jetstar said in a statement on Thursday.

Jetstar’s head of New Zealand Grant Kerr said the airline had finalised its “operator safety case” with regulators, the airport and its own pilots, with the proposed flights now awaiting regulatory approvals.

Kerr said the start of evening flights would offer passengers more options.

“Holidaymakers will be able to take more advantage of short breaks and spend a full day on the slopes before their flight home,” Kerr said in a statement.

“The new schedule also provides better connectivity for customers who are travelling with our long-haul partners to and from Queenstown via Melbourne.”

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Air New Zealand announced in January a new evening Auckland-Queenstown service that was due to kick off from July 1.

The addition of evening flights at Queenstown Airport has been in the works for a number of years, as the rising popularity of the city has placed the airport under some pressure at peak periods, particularly during the winter months.

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.

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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.

The airport has also expanded its terminal facilities to cater for the increased demand.

Queenstown Airport acting chief executive Mark Edghill said evening flights would help spread out the growing number of flights at the airport over a longer period.

“Due to time differences and airport curfews, the majority of our international flights currently arrive between midday and 3pm and need to depart before it gets dark at about 5pm,” Edghill explained in a statement.

“This creates an intense period of activity in order to get aircraft turned around.

“We’re delighted with Jetstar’s plan to shift flights across to evening slots and thank the airline for its continued support and commitment to provide our passengers with more choice and flexibility.”

Edghill said 80 per cent of the airport’s international passengers during the peak winter months were from Australia, up from a year-round figure of 69 per cent.

Queenstown Airport has published a video of a simulated night time landing:

Comments (6)

  • k lane

    says:

    could Queenstown airport support 787 service by jetstar ?

    IIs runway long enough? adequate safety margins?

    what is the largest aircraft type to have landed there?

  • Aviation

    says:

    k lane – I believe I’m correct in saying the largest aircraft that can land in ZQN is an A320, so the short answer is no, a 787 couldn’t land there.

  • Tyron

    says:

    Great news for those heading into and out of the lower South Island, but what are the contingencies in the event that the flight is diverted? Which airport would serve as an alternate? DUD? CHC? Jetstars Auckland centric network doesn’t fly between ZQN and those cities so if you’re diverted you’ll most likely end up on a bus to Queenstown which adds another day, if the weather is the issue it could be longer as was the case last year when a Jetstar AKL-ZQN service diverted to CHC and some passengers were put on a bus to endure a 30 hour ordeal partially stuck on the Lindis Pass, very bad press for Jetstar. The airline seriously needs to look at reinstating WLG-ZQN and CHC-ZQN as well as jet service capabilities in opening up Invercargill to minimize disruptions, Southlanders would flock to a regular direct jet flight to Auckland as they’re the only South island city without a direct link to New Zealands largest aviation hub and Jetstar would have a time/money saving alternate airport just 2.5 hours from Queenstown.

  • k lane

    says:

    Hi Tyron – re Invercargill

    Comprehensive analysis prior to JETSTAR regional starting and whilst in an ideal world southlanders might flock to a once a day A320 in reality other centres would warrant that service ahead of INV particularly Napier

  • Tyron

    says:

    K lane

    This so called comprehensive analysis was based on the most economical initial deployment for the Q300 fleet. Jetstar already has 200 seats a day on the Napier-Auckland route. An A320 would be overkill on such a short sector and would result in frequency being sacrificed. The Q300 is optimal for AKL-NPE but lacks the range to operate AKL-IVC therefore a jet service is a necessity for Invercargill not to mention my earlier point that it would allow for better disrupt management re Queenstown.

  • Ben

    says:

    Physically, sure, you could get a 788 in and out of there. But you wouldn’t be able to do it with a commercially viable payload due to runway length.

    With the RNP approaches the probability of diversions are much lower than they used to be. Sure CHC or DUD would be fine for technical alternates, but if there was a reasonable chance of a diversion then you would assume that ops would use AKL as the alternate for service recovery options. It just depends on how long you may not get in… can you gas and go from CHC or will you need to wait a while (in which case crew duty starts becoming an issue). Getting bussed in from CHC is almost normal for ZQN, the old VOR-A approach has minimas of a several thousand feet AGL and several kilometres of visibility! The RNP-AR approaches (that if I recall correctly all jet operators there now use) provide minima’s that are almost CAT I ILS equivalent, not bad in terrain that has MSA’s of well above 10,000ft. And despite what would have been a media beat-up, you can’t suggest it’s reasonable to blame JQ for a delay that happened on a bus!

    IVC is probably not commercially viable to link with AKL in an A320 (that’s a lot of seats to fill), it’s lack of services for medium jet aircraft and recovery options for pax would also limit its use as a divert port.

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