A warm welcome for Christchurch to Mount Cook flights

Southern businesses are welcoming Air New Zealand's decision to fly between Christchurch and two of the South Island's top tourist attractions over the 2012-2013 summer.

The airline will offer a trial service between Christchurch, Mount Cook and Queenstown over six weeks at the peak of summer, operating three times a week, with flights timed to connect with the direct service between Tokyo and Christchurch.

Christchurch International Airport (CIAL) Chief Executive Jim Boult is pleased the flights will begin next December.

"The Japanese travel market has been asking for this service for a long time," he says. "We know many Asian visitors who come here consider seeing Mount Cook the highlight of their visit.

"Lots of international travellers book a trip here with the expectation of seeing mountains and lakes, so flying over the Southern Alps and Canterbury plains between Christchurch and Mount Cook, then to Queenstown, will certainly make those travellers happy."

CIAL General Manager of Aeronautical Business Development Matthew Findlay says the flights to Mount Cook are sure to be very popular with Asian visitors arriving in Christchurch.

"They tell us they want to see the South Island's famous mountain, so being able to get off one flight in Christchurch and onto another to see Mount Cook is perfect. Selling this connection will begin in Asia very soon now everyone have dates to work to. It's a unique experience only Christchurch Airport, as New Zealand's Tourism gateway, can offer visitors flying on the new Tokyo-Christchurch flights."

Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism Chief executive Tim Hunter predicts it won't only be overseas visitors who board the new flights.

"Many New Zealanders regard Mount Cook highly too, so will welcome the chance to make a day trip or weekend visit to see the mountain and surrounding scenery. Staying a night or two will also give people the chance to see that amazing night sky, which has in the past been nominated for World Heritage status."
John Davies, Chairman of The Hermitage Hotel, is also thrilled with news of the flights into Mount Cook.

"Mount Cook has more than 300,000 visitors a year, with most of those over the summer. The Hermitage hosts about 85,000 visitors and across the summer months, about 90% of them are international.

"The majority of visitors to Mount Cook are day visitors and most of them are heading south, so being able to pick up that flight to Queenstown will be very attractive to them."

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