Air New Zealand has announced a capacity increase of 20 per cent on flights between Australia and Queenstown for the 2010 ski season.

The move is welcome news for the region’s MICE market and the increased flights from Australia’s east coast will take the number of direct Air New Zealand services to 12 per week.

During the peak July and August ski season periods, return Sydney services will increase from five to six per week, while Melbourne increases from two to three. This is on the back of thrice-weekly Brisbane-Queenstown flights already scheduled.

Flights from Auckland will also go up to four direct return services per day, representing a 30 increase on the route, in not just a boost for domestic travellers, but also connecting passengers from across Australia.

“The increase in capacity reflects the ever increasing interest in the Southern Lakes region as a holiday destination,” says Air New Zealand general manager Tasman Pacific Airline, Glen Sowry.

“It is also proving very popular over summer, with the number of flights from Auckland in January and February up 20 per cent on last year,” he says.

The additional Air New Zealand flights also mean the airline has tripled the number of international services into Queenstown over the last five years, making it one of the carrier’s hottest destinations for Australians.