Queenstown Airport

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Queenstown Airport
Queenstown Airport view from Deer Park.jpg
Queenstown Airport from Deer Park Heights
Airport type Public
Operator Queenstown Airport Corporation Ltd.
Location Queenstown, New Zealand
Elevation AMSL 357 m / 1,171 ft
Coordinates 45°01′16″S 168°44′21″E / 45.02111°S 168.73917°E / -45.02111; 168.73917Coordinates: 45°01′16″S 168°44′21″E / 45.02111°S 168.73917°E / -45.02111; 168.73917
Website queenstownairport.co.nz
Queenstown Airport is located in New Zealand
Queenstown Airport
Queenstown Airport
Location of Queenstown Airport within New Zealand
Direction Length Surface
m ft
05/23 1,891 6,204 Bitumen
14/32 890 2,920 Bitumen [1]
Statistics (July 2014 to July 2015)
Passengers Total 1,409,663[2]
Aircraft Movements 41,769

Queenstown Airport (IATA: ZQNICAO: NZQN) is located in Frankton, Otago, New Zealand, and serves the resort town of Queenstown.The airport is 8 km by road from the CBD. The airport handled 1,248,878 airline scheduled passengers for the year ending June 2014,[4] with passenger numbers still growing rapidly. At present it is the fourth busiest airport in New Zealand by passenger traffic. The airport has a single level terminal building with 10 tarmac gates with no jetways.


A regular scenic route between Queenstown and Milford Sound was first established by Southern Scenic Air Services Ltd in August 1951. Mount Cook Airline was the pioneer of tourist flights into Queenstown. Services began on 6 November 1961 operating DC-3s with three flights a week being operated from Christchurch on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday to Queenstown via Mount Cook and onto Te Anau/Manapouri. Later in 1969 HS-748 aircraft were used. A Mainstay of the Milford route was the Britten Norman Islander which began service in September 1970. They were used extensively on the flights to Milford Sound as well as on the Queenstown-Te Anau and Queenstown-Alexandra-Dunedin routes. The first international flight from Queenstown was on 1 July 1995 to Sydney. Queenstown opened its new $17 million International terminal extension on 23 June 2015 with a 4,100 meters of additional space to the south of the existing building. The new terminal has a mezzanine level on top to enable aerobridges to be included at a later stage.[5]


Queenstown has become one of New Zealand's leading airports for passenger numbers. Domestically, Air New Zealand connects Queenstown with Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch while Jetstar Airways operates services to Auckland. Auckland is serviced with Airbus A320 aircraft while Wellington and Christchurch are operated by a mix of A320 and ATR 72 aircraft. International flights have grown rapidly over recent years and year round services operate to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Four airlines operate to these ports: Air New Zealand, Jetstar Airways, Qantas and Virgin Australia. International flights are operated on Airbus A320 or Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The winter season is a very busy one with over 40 international flight arrivals and departures scheduled for peak weeks.[6] Weather permitting, there is substantial daily charter traffic of light aircraft (mostly Britten-Norman Islander, Cessna 206, and Cessna 172) to Milford Sound and Te Anau on sightseeing trips. Air Safaris runs a link service to Lake Tekapo Airport.[7] Helicopters are also very active.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Air New Zealand Auckland, Christchurch, Melbourne, Sydney, Wellington
Seasonal: Brisbane
Air New Zealand Link
operated by Mount Cook Airline
Christchurch, Wellington
Glenorchy Air Milford Sound
Jetstar Auckland, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney
Qantas Seasonal: Brisbane
operated by Jetconnect
Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney
Tauck Tours
operated by Alliance Airlines
Charter: Rotorua[8]
Virgin Australia Brisbane, Sydney
ATR 72 on the tarmac at Queenstown Airport
Queenstown Airport from a Glenorchy Air aircraft
Queenstown Airport's control tower
Qantas Boeing 737-800 departs Queenstown airport. Passing over Queenstown Hill
Artwork outside the Queenstown Airport
Check in Hall at Queenstown Airport


Busiest international routes into and out of Queenstown Airport (2014)[9]
Rank Airport Passengers  % Change Carriers
1  Australia, Sydney 187,151 Increase 24.0 Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Qantas, Virgin Australia
2  Australia, Melbourne 95,440 Increase 18.2 Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Qantas
3  Australia, Brisbane 59,091 Increase 27.0 Air New Zealand, Qantas, Virgin Australia
4  Australia, Gold Coast 1,568 Increase - Jetstar

Further Upgrades[edit]

In July 2011 newly installed runway lights were turned on for the first time. Airport management expects the lighting upgrade to lower diversion incidents at the airport due to low visibility. Queenstown is the last major airport in New Zealand to receive such an upgrade. The 2 million dollar project included 34 transformers, 25 km of airfield lighting cable, 124 lights, and was funded by Airways NZ[10] In June 2008, Queenstown Airport Corporation announced plans to install approach, runway and passenger area lighting. Currently Queenstown airport has only Precision Approach Path Indicators (PAPI) available for pilot aid, so flying is limited to daylight hours only. The installation of this additional equipment could see flights arriving as late as midnight, although proposed night flights are controversial within the local community.[11] Announcements in June 2010 were made with plans to triple the size of the baggage area to handle the large increases in growth and the addition of the extra airlines that have started flying into Queenstown. Plans are also in place to increase the size of the international arrivals hall.[12] In April 2012 Queenstown airport opened its new sealed runway on the former grass runway the cost of this project was $800,000 and took 10 months to complete. "In the past the runway had to be frequently closed due to adverse weather conditions such as after a heavy frost or heavy rain which could cause flooding," said Mr Steve Sanderson, Chief Executive Officer, Queenstown Airport. "Sealing the runway will greatly reduce the number of disruptions as well as further improve safety."[13]

Expansion work began in 2014 on the international terminal extending it further south adding an extra 4,080 square meters of floor space. The changes allowed the airport to process 1000 people per hour up from the previous 480. The outer shell was completed in June 2015. The interior will be completed in 3 stages.[14] In November 2015 Queenstown began $17 million upgrades including widening its main runway from 30m to 45m and resurfacing the entire length. There will install a comprehesive lighting upgrade for the runway, taxiway and apron. Also new approach lights will be installed to facilitate night flying operations.[15]

Strategic partnership with Auckland Airport[edit]

On 8 July 2010, Auckland International Airport Limited, the operator of Auckland Airport, announced it had entered into an agreement to take a 24.99% shareholding in Queenstown Airport Corporation Limited and form a strategic alliance between the two airports. The shareholding will cost NZ$27.7 million, through the issue of new shares. The alliance is expected to generate an extra 176,000 passengers through Queenstown Airport. Auckland Airport has an option to increase its shareholding in Queenstown Airport to 30-35% at any time up to 30 June 2011, subject to the approval of the Queenstown Lakes District Council. The new share capital from would allow Queenstown Airport to fund growth of the airport's operating capacity and to pay regular dividends back to the community via the Queenstown Lakes District Council shareholding.[16][17]


On 22 June 2010, a late-running Pacific Blue flight to Sydney took off from Queenstown. At the time, the airport had no runway lights, and the airline mandated a departure curfew of 30 minutes before evening civil twilight, allowing enough time for the aircraft to return to the airport in case of an emergency. The Boeing 737-800 took off on a departure requiring a visual segment, after curfew, and in poor weather. Passengers described a distressing takeoff procedure, with the aircraft flying very low above Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountain terrain. The take off was deemed an endangerment to the safety of the 70 passengers and crew aboard by the Civil Aviation Authority.[18][19] Both pilots were suspended over the incident, and in April 2011, the flight's captain was charged under the Civil Aviation Act with unnecessary endangerment. This charge was later reduced to one of a careless use of an aircraft, with a maximum fine of NZ$7,000. In March 2013, the pilot, Roderick Gunn, was found guilty.[20][21][22]

In another separate incident in June 2010 two airliners were found to have had a high potential to have breached the 1000 foot vertical separation required, according to a report by the New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission. Both airliners were Boeing 737 airliners, one operated by Qantas Airways and the other by Pacific Blue. The report states that whether the minima was breached was not investigated further because in the circumstances it was clear that the potential for such a breach was high and that alone was a safety issue that needed addressing.[23]

Because of the report and other concerns, Airways New Zealand and the Civil Aviation Authority have changed the procedures at Queenstown Airport. Flight paths have been altered for large passenger aircraft along with the innovative use of multilateration air traffic management which both organizations say will ensure this situation is unlikely to be repeated.

World's Most Scenic Airport Approach in 2015[edit]

In PrivateFly.com's 2015 survey to find the world's most scenic approaches, Queenstown Airport received the most votes.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "News/Queenstown Airport". Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  2. ^ "ZQN News Monthly traffic update" (PDF). Queenstown airport. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  3. ^ News / Queenstown Airport. Queenstownairport.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-16.
  4. ^ Retrieved on 2015-02-06.
  5. ^ "New Queenstown Airport international terminal opens". Scoop. 23 June 2015. Retrieved 5 July 2015. 
  6. ^ http://www.queenstownairport.co.nz/flights/flightinfo/
  7. ^ "Lake Tekapo Link: Christchurch-Tekapo-Queenstown". Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  8. ^ "Tauck - Spotlight on New Zealand". Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  9. ^ International Airline Activity—Annual Publications
  10. ^ Business / Queenstown Airport. Queenstownairport.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-16.
  11. ^ "Airport readies for night flights". The Southland Times. 5 June 2008. Retrieved 4 November 2011. 
  12. ^ Fea, Sue (10 June 2010). "Snow bringing Queenstown visitor boom". The Southland Times. Retrieved 4 November 2011. 
  13. ^ Business / Queenstown Airport. Queenstownairport.co.nz. Retrieved on 2013-07-16.
  14. ^ "Expansion work begins at Queenstown Airport". Australian Aviation. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  15. ^ "Queenstown Airport begins runway, lighting upgrades". Australian Aviation. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  16. ^ "Queenstown Lakes District set to benefit from an alliance between Queenstown and Auckland Airport: Media & downloads of Queenstown Airport". 8 July 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  17. ^ "Auckland Airport and Queenstown Airport strategic alliance - Auckland Airport". 8 July 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  18. ^ "Pacific Blue admits takeoff after deadline". Television New Zealand. 27 July 2010. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  19. ^ "Pacific Blue flight from Queenstown ignored rules". Stuff.co.nz. The Southland Times. 27 July 2010. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  20. ^ "CAA lays charges in Queenstown case". Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand. 14 April 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  21. ^ "Pilot to face court after 'dangerous' takeoff". Stuff.co.nz. The Southland Times. 14 April 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  22. ^ "Pacific Blue pilot elects trial by jury for 'late takeoff'". Stuff.co.nz. The Southland Times. 9 August 2011. Retrieved 27 August 2011. 
  23. ^ "Aviation inquiry 10-007: Boeing 737-800, ZK-PBF and Boeing 737-800, VH-VXU, airspace incident, near Queenstown Aerodrome, 20 June 2010". www.taic.org.nz. Transport Accident Investigation Commission. 
  24. ^ "Queenstown Airport Mlat - photo's". www.airways.co.nz. Airways New Zealand. August 2012. 
  25. ^ "Queenstown is voted world’s best runway view 2015". PrivateFly.com. Retrieved 17 May 2015. 

External links[edit]