Queenstown Airport bubble extended 24hrs, seven flights added

The grace period for travellers returning from Queenstown airport has been extended by 24 hours to midnight on Friday, as holidaymakers found themselves unable to get home before the cut-off.

Air New Zealand has added seven services to cope with the almost 600 North Island residents who were unable to get seats out of Queenstown during the initial Domestic Travel Bubble.

“Yesterday we added four additional services out of Queenstown for today, and they sold out within minutes,” said Air New Zealand chief executive, Greg Foran.

Passengers still trying to get home will have to book onto these new flights, via the airline’s website.

These new flightsinclude two services to Wellington and five to Auckland, between 10.30am and 8pm on Friday 20 August.

Queenstown Airport’s GM of Operations and Safety, Mike Clay, said the airport had been working with airports to increase capacity before the cut off, but they needed more time.

“There will be people in Queenstown and surrounds who are effectively stuck if repatriation flights are not able to operate after the cut-off this evening,” he told the Herald this Morning.

A total of 22 departing flights are operating out of Queenstown today for New Zealanders to return home today, with additional seats. However Clay said it was clear there was still”more demand than capacity available today”

Many holidaymakers who found their trips cut short were redirected via Invercargill or Christchurch airport, due to the high demand for seats out of Queenstown.

After this grace period the domestic network will be greatly reduced. At Level 4 physical distancing and proof of ‘essential travel’ will also be required on planes.

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