Tasmania’s first international flight in 23 years has taken off from Auckland in what has been hailed as a “special” day for the state.
Air New Zealand flight NZ197 left Auckland at 9am NZST on Thursday and will land at 11am AEST at Hobart International airport.
Speaking from Auckland, Tourism Tasmania chief executive John Fitzgerald said it was a thrilling and historic day.
“There hasn’t been an international flight to Hobart for 20 years from New Zealand. So it’s special,”
John Fitzgerald, Tourism Tasmania chief executive
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The flights have been underwritten by the Australian federal government, which last year announced a $50 million investment to return international flights to Hobart. Much of that has gone toward upgrading Hobart International Airport.
Air New Zealand successfully bid for the rights to operate the route and has committed to a twice-weekly service from Auckland for the next two years.
Airline chief executive Greg Foran said he was keeping an open mind about adding a Tuesday service.
“Potentially as we get into the winter season, the ski season, we may end up adding a third one on,”
Greg Foran, Airline chief executive
“We think it’s going to end up paying its way reasonably well and we’re excited that it’s going to get underway,” he said.
The last regularly scheduled international flights out of Hobart, a Hobart-Christchurch route, ceased in 1998. Since then, the island state has seen intermittent overseas charter flights and services to Antarctica.
Thursday’s flight is carrying Air New Zealand executives, trade partners and Kiwi journalists eager to explore the Apple Isle.
The flights have been made possible by the trans-Tasman bubble, which began on Monday when New Zealand removed the need for Australian travellers to complete a fortnight’s quarantine on arrival.
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