Queenstown Airport numbers back to pre-pandemic heights

by Lauren Pattemore - Jan 18, 2024

Passengers through Queenstown Airport have returned to their pre-pandemic levels and then some as international visits soar.

Total passenger movements (arrivals and departures for international visitors, domestic visitors and Queenstown residents) sat at more than 2.4 million for the year 2023, a new record for the airport.

In comparison, 2019, pre-Covid, saw just shy of 2.4 million passenger movements.

The airport is cautious about proclaiming any huge growth, with a spokesperson saying last year's figure is "essentially the same" as 2019's - approximately 17,300 more people passed through the airport or 0.07 percent.

But growth in international travellers has outpaced domestic.

Last year saw 822,904 people move through the airport coming or going from overseas, more than 100,000 more than in 2019, when 714,652 people used the airport as a starting or ending point for an offshore trip.

It's a big jump from 2022, which recorded just 403,724 international movements with pandemic travel restrictions in place. 

"The (increase in) international passenger numbers reflect the popularity of our region with Australians, as well as pent-up demand from local residents who were unable to travel during the pandemic," the airport spokesperson says. 

Meanwhile domestic travel took a hit last year, and the airport spokesperson says that's due to Pratt & Whitney engine issues forcing Air New Zealand to revise its flight schedules.

There were fewer domestic movements last year than in 2019 domestic - 1,587,711 compared with 1,678,667. 

"This is expected to have an impact for another 18 to 24 months," the spokesperson says.

The spokesperson says the airport was "certainly busy" over the Christmas and New Year period, with extra customer service and operations staff hired to cope with the load. 

It is their view things ran smoothly over the peak summer period.

"We are seeing the benefits of our investment in additional self-service kiosks and automated bag drops, which have sped up the check-in process and significantly reduced congestion.

"We have substantially expanded the area allocated to security screening and the domestic departures area. We have also introduced aircraft access ramps, which allow passengers to board and disembark more quickly."

They say flight numbers will reduce next month as airlines resume their normal schedules.

Advertise with Crux Advertise with Crux