SUNSHINE Coast residents will be able to fly direct to New Zealand for as little as $149 as part of what promises to be a multi-million-dollar shot in the arm for our tourism industry.
News of the direct flights, first detailed in yesterday's Daily, was described as a "red letter day" for the Sunshine Coast.
The services, to kick off in July, will be operated by Air New Zealand as part of its Trans Tasman alliance with Virgin Australia.
Two flights a week to and from Auckland will commence on a seasonal trial.
Tickets went on sale yesterday afternoon for $149 one-way flights from the Sunshine Coast to Auckland.
Acting Coast mayor Tim Dwyer said the deal would elevate the Coast from a regional player to a serious player on the national and world stage.
"Not only will this flight connect the Coast with our biggest international market in New Zealand but also offers the opportunity to connect via Auckland to markets in the US and beyond," Mr Dwyer said.
"And at $149 one-way, I'm already checking out New Zealand golf courses on the web."
Air New Zealand's GM Australia Cam Wallace said he was hoping to help more Queenslanders "make the trip across the ditch".
"We'll also be flying plenty of Kiwi tourists into the heart of the Sunshine Coast to enjoy some winter warmth," he said.
"While the initial season is July 1 to September 18, if there's enough demand we'll look to make it a year-round service."
Tourism Minister Jan Jarratt said New Zealand was the number one international market for the Coast, accounting for 30% of its overseas visitor.
"It is estimated these seasonal flights will add another 50,000 new room nights and an expected $1.5 million cash injection over the winter months."
DIRECT FLIGHTS TO NEW ZEALAND
Trial from: Sunday, July 1 to Tuesday, September 18
Fare: $149 one-way special introductory offer, valid until midnight March 2
Frequency: Sunday and Tuesday; Auckland - Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast - Auckland
Flights will connect with scheduled flights to north America, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver.
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