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Air New Zealand to invest $25 mln improving Queenstown flights

Air New Zealand to invest $25 mln improving Queenstown flights

WELLINGTON: Air New Zealand passengers should be facing less disruption flying in and out of Queenstown Airport following a $25 million plan.

The national carrier announced on Thursday evening it will fit its 68-seat ATR turboprop fleet with new navigation technology. Known as Required Navigation Performance (RNP AR) technology it enables specially trained pilots to fly to lower altitudes with a more precise and efficient route into the airport.

In the case of Queenstown Airport that means being able to fly and land on fog-affected days – currently about 40 days a year, according to Mount Cook Airlines boss Andrew Ward, who will be in charge of the planes. “It’s going to be not just a slight improvement. It will be something very noticeable in the performance and reliability of the schedule,” he said.

Air New Zealand chief operations officer Bruce Parton said it was pressure from passengers flying between Queenstown and the likes of Wellington and Christchurch that brought about the change. The Queenstown-Auckland route is usually serviced by jet aircraft, which already carry the technology. “Customers want to know they can get there on time and every day.” It was not intended that the planes would be used for night flights in the near future.