DIRECT flights between Auckland and Invercargill are set to open Southland up to visitors like never before, according to the region’s top tourism body.
Air New Zealand announced last Friday the first-ever direct service between the two cities would begin on Sunday, August 25, with the first flight arriving in Invercargill from Auckland. The return flight will depart the next day.
Venture Southland chief executive Paul Casson said the new route would allow easier transit to the region for both domestic and international visitors.
“A lot of people have said we need this and it’s about getting on board now and actually using it.
“It’s been one of the biggest things I think for us in terms of turning us around from a tourism perspective but also international education and business.”
He said plans had already been put in place to help market the route, particularly in and around Auckland to attract visitors to Southland.
“There is a strategy that is being developed around marketing to the Auckland region but also off-shore down the track as well.” An Air New Zealand spokeswoman also confirmed the new route would feature heavily in promotional material on the North Island, as well as featuring in its in-flight magazine and heavily on their website and social media.
Invercargill Airport (IAL) general manager Nigel Finnerty said: “The airport and our community partners, along with Air New Zealand, have worked extremely hard to make this flight a reality,” he said.
The service will run on a two-year trial and Mr Casson said he was hopeful people would prove it was needed beyond the two years.
He was also hopeful the service would open the door for a potential return to international flights to Invercargill.
Mr Finnerty said international flights would be considered if the opportunity presented itself, but the airport was focused on making the Auckland to Invercargill service a success. Invercargill would become the first non-international regional airport to have a regular passenger A320 jet service in New Zealand.
It will also be the longest domestic flight in the country.
Flights from Invercargill will run on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with the Auckland flights on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Tickets for the route were now on sale.