One of Tropical North Queensland’s favourite airlines has landed back in Cairns, bringing with it a welcome influx of visitors and further connecting the region to a raft of premier holiday destinations, timed perfectly for the winter peak.
Air New Zealand will operate three direct flights between Auckland and Cairns each week, starting from July 5. Passengers disembarking in Cairns on the first flight were treated to a tongue-in-cheek treat – the classic pavlova, which has long been claimed as a national dish by both Australia and New Zealand.
The first aircraft was full, and bookings also show very strong passenger figures for upcoming flights, Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer Richard Barker said.
It is the first time in a year that Air New Zealand has landed in Cairns, following the brief Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble in 2021.
“Direct Air New Zealand flights between Auckland and Cairns show a clear vote of confidence in our region and mark a vital step in the recovery of the Far North’s economy during our COVID-19 recovery phase,” Mr Barker said.
“These flights will undoubtedly be a welcome addition to travellers’ itineraries, both for those seeking a warmer, tropical holiday in the Far North and for local adrenaline seekers keen to hit the slopes in New Zealand.”
“Importantly, this flight route also significantly enhances travel options to and from North America. One stop, seamless connectivity from Los Angeles or San Francisco via Auckland opens the pathway to see more visitors in the Far North from the USA.”
“These flights will enable easier and more frequent travel for those who have been separated from relatives and loved ones during the peak of the pandemic. We expect these services to be highly popular, particularly as confidence around international travel continues to grow.”
Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty also believed the restored flight route would be a sought-after choice for both New Zealand and Tropical North Queensland residents.
“We know that linking visitors directly to Auckland makes it easier for them to visit our wine regions such as Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay, and ski adventure destinations like Queenstown,” she said.
“Kiwis love to escape to Far North Queensland for a warm winter getaway so the restart of our Auckland to Cairns direct services will be welcome news. With flights running three times a week, we look forward to welcoming plenty of Kiwis and Aussies back on board to experience all our beautiful regions have to offer.”
More than 38,000 visitors from New Zealand travelled to the region in pre-pandemic 2019, staying for an average of 10.5 nights and injecting almost $67 million into the economy, Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chair Ken Chapman said.
He said the new direct flights followed a targeted media push in New Zealand.
“TTNQ have been bringing key New Zealand media and influencers to Tropical North Queensland over the past three months to encourage bookings once direct flights resume,” Dr Chapman said.
“The media have been wanting to share Tropical North Queensland’s World Heritage areas, Indigenous culture and city experiences, including the thriving food and beverage scene with their readers and followers.”
For further information, including Air New Zealand flight details and availability, visit airnewzealand.com.au.