By James Wilkinson in Queenstown
Queenstown operators are hailing Pacific Blue’s new direct Sydney flights a huge success for the region, even after only two services have operated.
Touchdown: Pacific Blue has launched Queenstown
Pacific Blue inaugurated Sydney-Queenstown services on Saturday (Sep 5) and the full flight was an indication of things to come for the adventure capital of New Zealand.
Speaking exclusively to SpiceNews, Sofitel Queenstown general manager Wouter De Graaf said the MICE market potential ex-Australia was huge at present, thanks to the new Pacific Blue flights.
“We now have four airlines flying to Queenstown (Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Pacific Blue and Qantas), so the access has never been better,” said Sofitel Queenstown general manager Wouter De Graaf.
“There is so much here that delegates can do, from visiting wineries to heli skiing and taking the TSS Earnslaw steamer across Lake Wakatipu,” he said.
To coincide with the launch, Pacific Blue released another sale on Sydney-Queenstown flights, with airfares dropping to $209 each way including taxes. And that move has now put Queenstown on par with the Whitsundays for the cost of conference and incentive trips.
Lead-in airfares on the route will start at $299 each way, still well below the cheapest prices between the two cities just 12 months ago.
“Our guests lobbied us for some time to start direct flights from Sydney to Queenstown so we’re responding to them at last with the opening of the new route,” said Virgin Blue Group CEO Brett Godfrey.
“It’s no secret Queenstown is one of New Zealand’s most popular year round destinations and we are excited to be bringing more, choice and convenience for travellers wanting to fly direct, fly affordably and of course fly the fun way with Pacific Blue’s friendly crew,” he said.
Godfrey said forward bookings for Queenstown are trending well with early indications showing group bookings are going gangbusters.
Eichardts Private Hotel general manager Victoria Shaw said with strong forward bookings, Queenstown could now work harder at attracting more Australians to the city over the summer period.
“Traditionally, summer has been busy with the northern hemisphere market, but with long-haul travel slowing down, we need more Aussies to start flying to Queenstown,” she told SpiceNews.
“We haven’t had to reply on the Australian market over summer in recent years, but we will need more bums on seats this year, that’s for sure,” said Shaw, who is also the Queenstown chair of the New Zealand Hotel Council.
Queenstown has a number of large conferences set for late-2009, with the most popular summer conferencing spot being Coronet Peak, the region’s leading ski resort which last year received a NZD$30 million make-over – including event space in the main building for 1000.
The launch flight on Saturday also marked the end of a big week for Pacific Blue, with the airline also launching services from Australia to Dunedin and Hamilton, New Zealand over the past seven days.