The first Jetstar flight has touched down at Queenstown Airport on Thursday, becoming the second airline to return to international services to the airport.
Flight JQ193 departed from the Gold Coast at 6:16am on Thursday morning, touching down in Queenstown at 11:25am local time, after a flight time of just over three hours.
It comes after New Zealand reopened its international borders to Australian citizens on 12 April, and later similarly eased entry restrictions to tourists from dozens of visa-waiver countries on 1 May, scrapping quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated arrivals.
Full-service parent airline Qantas was the first carrier to resume international flights to Queenstown late last month, with flight QF121. The Boeing 737-800 was met with a water salute, in honour of being the first international flight to arrive at the airport in 330 days.
Speaking of Thursday’s Jetstar flight, Queenstown Airport CEO Glen Sowry said it was great to see a second Australian carrier return to the airport ahead of the busy winter snow season.
“We are thrilled to see Jetstar flying across the Tasman again and are welcoming those Queenslanders with open arms,” he said.
“Both the inbound and outbound flight were approximately 75 per cent full which is a great sign for the winter ahead.”
Jetstar will resume flights connecting Sydney and Queenstown on Friday, 3 June, while Qantas will resume direct flights to Melbourne and Brisbane as of 18 June, which will mark the return of Qantas’ full pre-COVID network to New Zealand.
Air New Zealand is set to resume trans-Tasman flights as of 24 June.
It comes after Qantas reinstated four routes to New Zealand to keep up with growing passenger demand, ahead of the country’s ski season.
On 23 May, Qantas resumed flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Wellington, as well as its Sydney-Queenstown and Melbourne-Christchurch services. Meanwhile, its Brisbane-Christchurch service resumed the following day.
The airline noted that all newly reinstated flights into New Zealand from Australia were at full capacity on their first day of operation, highlighting the current demand for trans-Tasman travel.
“The ramp-up of flights between Australia and New Zealand just in time for ski season is a shot in the arm for tourism off the back of a tough few years for local operators, and Queenstown is making a particularly strong comeback,” a Qantas spokesperson said.
“Bookings across our 11 trans-Tasman routes are showing positive signs in both directions, as Australians and New Zealanders embrace the opportunity to reconnect with the people and places they love across the ditch.”