Travel boost: Qantas re-launches key New Zealand routes from Australia in time for ski season

by James Wilkinson

Qantas has re-launched five key routes to New Zealand from Australia as the Flying Kangaroo continues to rebuild its trans-Tasman network.

This week, Qantas resumed services from Sydney to Queenstown and Wellington, Melbourne to Christchurch and Wellington and Brisbane to Christchurch.

“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.

As part of the restart, Qantas operated its first international flight into Queenstown in 330 days, with QF121 touch down from Sydney at 2.30pm on May 23.

The airline will operate up to 20 weekly services to Queenstown from Australia and capacity on the route is expected to reach 110 per cent of pre-COVID levels by July, with Australian travellers eager to hit the famous South Island slopes, providing a boost for the New Zealand tourism industry, according to the spokesperson.

“Qantas is seeing strong demand in both directions across the Tasman, with New Zealanders travelling across Qantas’ extensive domestic and international network, including to and from London, Singapore and Bali,” the Qantas spokesperson said.

Destination Queenstown has welcomed the return of Qantas to the alpine playground, which is in time for the 2022 ski season, which officially kicks off on June 11 with the opening of Cardrona Alpine Resort.

“We are delighted that Queenstown has welcomed back the first direct flight from Australia today,” said Destination Queenstown Chair, Richard Thomas.

“The [first Qantas] flight was at capacity and there are strong signs of pent-up demand for travel to Queenstown from Australia which brings us confidence it will be a great ski season ahead,” he said.

“We are looking forward to seeing the region and our local businesses bustling again with domestic and international visitors.”

Queenstown has always been a popular destination for Australians, particularly over the winter season, according to Thomas, who said pre-COVID, the Australian market made up 40% of total international expenditure and the largest proportion of international visitation to Queenstown (over 30%).

“While ski is a major drawcard, Queenstown has plenty to offer those looking for a quintessential NZ escape,” he said.

“Whether warming up fireside with a glass of Pinot Noir in hand or soaking in the hot springs overlooking the Shotover River canyon, winter here is truly a magical time of year.”

Up next, Jetstar are set to resume their services to Queenstown from June 2, followed by Air New Zealand on June 24. Virgin Australia have plans to re-start services to Queenstown in November.