Virgin Australia lands first after-dark flight in time for Winter Festival

Virgin first after dark flight

Virgin Australia's first after-dark flight to Queenstown landed tonight (23 June) in time for passengers to enjoy an action-packed long weekend at the resort town's annual Winter Festival.

VA118 arrived from Brisbane at 20:20 and took off for its return flight at 21:15.

The evening ski shuttle service between Brisbane and Queenstown will run on Fridays and Sundays from 23 June while Virgin's partner airline Air New Zealand will operate services from Queenstown to Sydney on Saturday and Sunday from 1 July (departing at 18:00). 
This means a total of 38 return services each week between Australia and Queenstown during the 2017 ski season. Both airlines have added additional flights to their schedules and moved some flights to the evening, so visitors can maximise their stay. This equates to a combined extra capacity of more than 5,500 across the four weeks.

Queenstown Airport Chief Executive Colin Keel said that the new services were great news for the region. 

"The introduction of evening flights last winter gave visitors more choice and flexibility when visiting this spectacular part of the world.

“We saw a great uptake by Australians in the evening flights offered from Melbourne, with people coming here to make the most of the extended operating hours, staying and skiing for longer.

“The addition of Sydney and Brisbane to the evening flight options means even more people can jump on a flight Friday afternoon in Brisbane, head night skiing and still have another two full days on the mountains before flying home on Sunday evening. This helps increase length of stay in the region which benefits a number of businesses in the community."

Last winter, 79% of Queenstown Airport’s trans-Tasman passengers were Australian and half were Australians under 35 years old. For the period June to August 2016, international passenger numbers were 162,506, an increase of 6% year on year (152,967).