Wānaka Sun       

Wānaka to Christchurch flights to help domestic recovery

Posted at 6:00am Thursday 27 Aug, 2020 | By Joanna Perry newsdesk@thewanakasun.co.nz

Tickets will go on sale next month for a new flight service between Wānaka and Christchurch, following successful discussions between Sounds Air, Christchurch Airport and Queenstown 

Airport Corporation (QAC), which manages Wānaka Airport. 

Scheduled flights between the regions are expected to stimulate travel and business, aiding recovery from the impact of COVID-19 - by which the Southern Lakes region has been one of the hardest hit in New Zealand due to its reliance on international tourism.

Sounds Air CEO Andrew Crawford said tickets would be on sale from mid-September, with prices ranging from $159 to $279. The company plans to run 12 return flights a week using a turbo-prop Pilatus PC12 aircraft, which can take up to 9 passengers at a time on the 45 minute journey between Wānaka and Christchurch airports.”

“This is fantastic news, not just for Sounds Air, but for the communities of Wānaka and Christchurch who have been so supportive of this proposed service,” said Crawford.

After the flight schedule was first proposed in June, a community feedback survey demonstrated that 90 percent of over 3,600 respondents were ‘positive' or 'strongly positive' about the proposal.

After initial reluctance from QAC, due to a commitment outlined in their Statement of Intent that they would not develop Wānaka Airport for scheduled services until Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) had completed impact assessments of future airport development, that Statement of Intent is now up for review in October - after which Crawford was confident that flights could commence from November 2. 

“The November start date allows for QAC to seek the necessary approvals from its majority shareholder, QLDC, through the submission of its revised Statement of Intent, while also allowing us to help to get people and businesses moving at a time when this is most needed thanks to the impact that COVID-19 is having on tourism and business.

“The regional connectivity that this flight service will bring will enable locals to travel more easily, support domestic tourism, aid local business recovery and improve access to health services,” Crawford said.

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult gave his support for the new service as a positive contributor to the district's recovery from the economic effects of COVID-19.

"The Upper Clutha has backed the introduction of this service and I sincerely hope it will help underpin and strengthen business connections for the entrepreneurial and innovative community of Wānaka with Christchurch, and further afield."

He added that the proposal was “likely to be endorsed” in October because it did not require runway or terminal developments.

View edition 989 of the Wānaka Sun here.

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