More developments at Queenstown
Scott Paterson, Queenstown Airport CEO (left); Graham Budd, Destination Queenstown CEO; Vanessa van Uden, mayor; Rob Leach, director Air Centre One and Queenstown Corporate Jet Services; and local MP Bill English in front of the new facility.
Queenstown Airport was the centre of two important developments last month. First was the announcement that steps were being taken to introduce night flights in and out of the airport, followed closely by the opening of the airport’s new mini corporate jet terminal.
This marks an important step for the airport, where 24 foreign-owned private jets landed during the month of March alone.
The need for the corporate jet facility was perceived by Rob Leach, whose company, Air Center One, was set up to provide customs, immigration and other services to private corporate jets at Auckland Airport. The construction of the facility on leased land at Queenstown was announced by Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) in November last year. It has been developed by Air Center One and Wellington-based Capital Jet Services and is situated close to Queenstown Airport’s international baggage reclaim area.
A team employed by the new company, Queenstown Corporate Jet Services, will provide services for corporate jet passengers arriving and departing from the airport. Rob Leach says there is a strong forward demand for corporate jets to visit Queenstown for its scenery, the many sporting and adventure facilities available and the unique nightlife.
Until now Queenstown Corporate Jet Services has been operating from the main terminal building, and the new facility will facilitate not only passenger needs and wants but also undertake the tasks of towing and parking aircraft, providing up-market toilets and refuelling and catering.
The facility should cost up to $300,000 but it is seen as an interim solution to the problem of servicing corporate jets. Plans are already being drawn up for a larger facility in about three years’ time. At the same time the company believes that demand will increase so rapidly it will be obliged to increase the present permanent staff of four and also hire temporary staff over busy periods.
The building’s opening on 9 May by local MP and Deputy Prime Minister, Bill English, attracted a large gathering of local tourism and business interests as well as representatives from the aviation industry and local government.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, QAC chief executive, Scott Paterson, congratulated the Queenstown Corporate
Jet Services team and said the new facility was an exciting first step in enhancing the airport’s premium facilities.
“While this is an interim solution for the next three years, pending the resolution of our land acquisition plans, it’s a big step forward in enhancing our corporate passenger experience and positioning Queenstown as a key New Zealand gateway for premium visitors,” he said
Air Center CEO Rob Leach, a prime mover in the establishment of the corporate jet facility at Queenstown, told the gathering there was growing international demand for such facilities. He pointed out that every year, more and more overseas aircraft come into New Zealand.
“With the establishment of the corporate facility we’ll attract more of these people now. It’s good for the economy, good for Queenstown and good for everybody,” he said.
In Queenstown Airport’s other major development, the CAA has accepted in principle the foundation safety case for night flight operations, subject to infrastructure improvements. The safety case was presented jointly by QAC and Navigatus Consulting. Its approval shows the benefits of participants taking a collaborative approach, says CAA Director Graeme Harris.
“This approval is the result of much hard work and dedication from airline operators, QAC, CAA and Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority.” He also points out that flights are currently only permitted to take off and land during daylight hours.
“The size and configuration of Queenstown Airport and mountainous surrounding terrain has meant limiting flying to daylight hours has been appropriate until now. QAC and operators have shown a willingness to improve infrastructure and develop operational procedures to gain this approval,” he says.
The main elements required to be in place before night flight operations are:
• Widening the runway to 45m (from the current 30m);
• A comprehensive aeronautical lighting package (runway, taxiway, approach and off-airport lights);
• A customised crew selection and training package;
• Employing the full capability of the existing RNP technology; and
• Changes to on-board flight procedures to reduce pilot workload on final approach.
Once these changes are made, the CAA will approve night flight operations. These elements are not likely to be in place before mid-2016.
Destination Queenstown has welcomed the announcement. Chief executive Graham Budd says he is thrilled with this exciting development which is a significant milestone in the process of bringing evening flights to New Zealand’s premier four-season resort.
“I congratulate everyone who has worked so hard bringing this to fruition. It is a significant development in supporting the future growth of the visitor market into Queenstown and will enhance the visitor experience given that airline schedules will be able to be extended to more convenient hours across the day.
“The decision by New Zealand’s CAA and Australia’s CASA will be a game changer in terms of supporting DQ’s marketing efforts in driving visitor volume and value across the year.”
This is the first step in a full process to achieving evening flights up to 10pm. Airlines will now access demand for evening services and apply to the regulator for individual operator approval.
- Report by John King, photography by Blair Pattinson/RAPA Images
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