Business

Queenstown Airport plans for 13% lift in winter capacity

 Queenstown Airport is forecasting a 13 percent increase in flight capacity through its peak winter period.

The airport, owned by Queenstown Lakes District Council and Auckland International Airport, says additional flights being offered by Qantas and Jetstar will help increase the total number of available seats by 176,234 in the six months through September.

The biggest increases are in July, August and September at 16, 18 and 17 percent respectively, the company says. Scheduled international capacity for the six months will be 29 percent higher than a year ago, while domestic capacity will be 6 percent higher.

Queenstown Airport at Frankton is controlled by the district council. It handled 2.28 million passenger arrivals and departures in the year through February, 11 percent more than a year earlier. About 72 percent were domestic travellers. Auckland airport has a 25 percent stake in the company.

The resort town on Lake Wakatipu remains one of the fastest growing tourism destinations in New Zealand. It is also one of the country’s fastest-growing communities, with the council expecting the number of households to almost double to 37,770 by 2048. That could require a billion dollar of infrastructure spending during the next decade.

Queenstown Airport is reviewing its own plans for expansion after local residents opposed a potential doubling of annual passenger movements to 5.1 million by 2045. The corporation was last year granted a 100-year lease over Wanaka airport – about 80 kilometres north-east of Queenstown. It has also undertaken to work with Invercargill and Dunedin airports on joint initiatives, including regional tourism strategy.

The company is picking its winter peaks this year will be from Monday, July 8 through to Sunday, July 21. Daily flights – arrivals and departures – will average 63 during that period, up from 56 in the week ended July 15 last year.

In that week the airport handled about 53,000 passenger movements. The company is forecasting about 60,000 movements in the peak weeks this year. 

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