L-R: Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson, Air NZ Australia Commercial Operations Manager Michael Zorba, Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd CEO Steve Cooper, Sunshine Coast Airports General Manager Peter Pallot.

Air New Zealand has confirmed flights will once again operate services from Auckland to the Sunshine Coast for the 2013 winter season in a major boost to hotels in the South East Queensland region.

The direct service will operate twice a week on Tuesdays and Sundays from June 18 to October 13, 2013.

The 17 week season is being extended next year to include the October school holidays, following the success of the 2012 season, according to the airline.

Air New Zealand Group General Manager Australasia Bruce Parton said the route was particularly popular with New Zealand holiday makers during 2012.

“The Sunshine Coast has long been a haven for Kiwis wanting a break from the long New Zealand winter. Now they can do so without the1.5 hour drive to and from Brisbane,” he said.

“Destination Sunshine Coast is rapidly growing in popularity and demand for the service is expected to exceed this year’s figures as awareness of the route grows.”

The route will be operated, Parton said, in conjunction with alliance partner Virgin Australia.

“We are very pleased with the positive response to the Sunshine Coast’s first international service,” said Virgin Australia Group Executive of Alliances, Network and Yield Merren McArthur.

“Kiwis can also use the Sunshine Coast as a starting point to explore other parts of Queensland and Australia, which helps to grow tourism in this country.

“We will continue to work with our partner Air New Zealand to promote the route and to look for other opportunities to enhance our joint offering for customers.”

An A320 aircraft will operate the service, offering a ‘Seats to Suit’ fare structure and seamless connections to the domestic and international networks of Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia.

Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd (SCDL) CEO Steve Cooper said he welcomed the news that Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia will extend their services next year following a successful trial in 2012.

“The return of this direct service with an extended season in 2013 demonstrates the undeniable demand for Kiwis to visit the Sunshine Coast,” he said.

“New Zealand is the number one international market for the Sunshine Coast with 76,000 Kiwis travelling to the region last financial year.

“This is a real boost of confidence for our region and the tourism industry,” he said.

Sunshine Coast Mayor, Mark Jamieson, added: “There’s an extra 3000 seats available for New Zealand tourists to visit our wonderful Sunshine Coast region, as well as a great opportunity for locals to enjoy a winter skiing trip to New Zealand – or a northern summer trip to Disneyland in Los Angeles, directly from the Sunshine Coast.

“It also means that, all things being equal, the $14.5 million last season generated for our region will increase to nearly $20 million.

“This announcement is wonderful news and will cement our new relations with the great city of Auckland.

“It justifies our investment into Sunshine Coast Airport’s development of an international terminal.”

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management