Currently the airport only allows flights to take off and land during daylight hours, thanks to its size and configuration as well as the terrain of surrounding mountains.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says the airport will have to undergo changes before the night-time flights are permitted, including widening the runway from 30m to 45m and adding extra lights to the runway, taxiway, approach and off-airport areas. The changes will also include specialised training for crew and pilots.
“Queenstown Airport Corporation and operators have shown a willingness to improve infrastructure and develop operational procedures to gain this approval,” says CAA director Graeme Harris. . . .
Had the people who decided the airport’s location been able to look ahead and see how the town, and surrounding area, would grow, the airport would almost certainly have been put somewhere else.
The rapid growth in the Queenstown Lakes District’s permanent population and tourism has boosted travel in and out of the area.
A lot of people from North and Central Otago and Southland also use Queenstown in preference to Invercargill, Dunedin, Timaru and Christchurch airports.
Not allowing night flights is frustrating for business people who have to finish work in for example, Wellington or Auckland, earlier or stay there overnight.
The decision to allow night flights is good news for all travellers, be they coming and going for business and pleasure.
It might not be so welcome for the people who live in the flight paths.