On Sunday 25th of August, Invercargill Airport will become the first regional airport in New Zealand to host a regular jet service with the arrival of the inaugural Air New Zealand flight between Auckland and Invercargill.
Great South Chief Executive Ann Lockhart said the touchdown would be a significant milestone for the region.
“It’s the start of an exciting new chapter for regional connectivity and signifies endless opportunities for Southland,”
To celebrate the achievement, Great South and Invercargill Airport Limited would be hosting regional leaders, key Southland stakeholders and members of the Regional Partnership Group at an event on Sunday night.
Ms Lockhart said the event would provide an opportunity to acknowledge the determination of local leaders and businesses in establishing the direct flight service.
“From the research carried out to develop an air travel business case to the commitment of the regional partnership group to implement it, to the extensive work being done to upgrade the Invercargill airport and the regional approach of Air New Zealand – it’s been a collaborative effort to make this happen,” she said.
Invercargill Airport Limited GM Nigel Finnerty said the recently completed upgrade would play a significant role in making sure the direct flights become a permanent fixture.
“With new security features, secure lounges and an apron hardstand, we will be capable of supporting any domestic jet currently operating in New Zealand,” he said.
Mr Finnerty said the benefits of the flight service had already started with a minimum of 13 full-time jobs and 16 part-time jobs being created at the airport.
Along with boosting employment opportunities, Ms Lockhart said with the establishment of the flights, Southland would officially be open for business.
“The direct flights will make it more viable for people to consider Southland as a destination and give local exporters increased access to both the Auckland and international marketplace,” Ms Lockhart said.
It’s estimated that over the next three years, the direct economic benefit of the flights could be between $11.3 and $12.5 million for the Southland region, and Ms Lockhart said this could even be on the conservative side.
“Increased connectivity will enhance the quality of life people have in Southland, support business confidence and as a result strengthen the Southland economy and encourage more people to consider Southland as a preferred place to live, work and visit,”
Air New Zealand Head of Tourism and Regional Affairs Reuben Levermore said the airline is excited to get its direct A320 service between Auckland and Invercargill underway on Sunday.
“There has already been a really enthusiastic response to the jet service from the Southland community and a lot of work has gone on to get the airport ready for our jet aircraft, to market the service, and to provide services and amenities for visitors to Invercargill. We’re looking forward to touching down on Sunday and to seeing Southlanders utilising the service.”
The flight is expected to arrive into Invercargill Airport at 9:35 pm with the inaugural Invercargill to Auckland flight returning at 6:00 am on Monday 26 August.