Air New Zealand’s inaugural, direct flight from Auckland to the Sunshine Coast made the journey across the Tasman, touching down over the weekend with a cabin-full of New Zealanders seeking out the sun.
“Today begins a new era for our regional airport with this first-ever international scheduled passenger flight to the Sunshine Coast,” Mayor Mark Jamieson said.
“Sunshine Coast Airport, its wellbeing and its expansion are a cornerstone project for this region as we strive to secure its economic sustainability… New Zealand being the number one international market to the Sunshine Coast, this historical flight will help increase the amount of international visitors to the destination.”
Auckland Tourism’s Jayson Hill said it had taken three years to get the route up and running.
Air New Zealand’s general manager Australia, Cam Wallace, was aboard the first-ever flight which is part of the trans-Tasman alliance between Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia.
“We see a mass amount of New Zealanders travelling to the Sunshine coast as a holiday destination. Mass market is the leisure market getting Australians into New Zealand especially for the ski season,” he said.
Sunshine Coast Destination Limited chief Steve Cooper was very pleased with the new, direct service.
“New Zealand is the number one international tourism market for the Sunshine Coast, accounting for 30 percent of our international visitors. It is estimated these seasonal flights will add another 50,000 new room nights and a huge cash injection for the region.”
Eager passengers arrived hours early at Auckland Airport using the self check-in screens before dropping their bags at the desk for their flight to the Sunshine Coast.
At the gate, guests were spoiled with live music, drinks and snacks, along with photo opportunities.
Passengers were greeted at Sunshine Coast Airport by four surf lifeguards and Australia’s most famous family, the Irwin’s; Bindi, Robert and Terri. Mauri dancers performed while guests were offered drinks and snacks.
The Sunshine Coast airport is owned, operated and managed by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council and for something different will mark passenger passports with a unique Sunshine Coast stamp.
Click here for a photo gallery of the celebrations and the arrival of the inaugural flight.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T