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Emotions overflow as New Zealand flights return to Gold Coast Airport

March 2, 2022

Emotions were overflowing this morning as family and friends reunited at Gold Coast Airport after the first flight from New Zealand touched down in more than seven months.

The passengers onboard the Air New Zealand A321 neo received a special Gold Coast welcome back when they came through the terminal, including a performance from the Biren Aboriginal Dance Group, entertainment from a singer-guitarist, theme park characters in attendance and welcome back gift packs of Tim Tams handed out.

The flight arrival coincides with a further easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated Kiwis from 11.59pm today (Wednesday), who no longer need to self-isolate when they get back to New Zealand from Australia.

Queensland Airports Limited CEO Chris Mills said demand for the initial Air New Zealand services had been strong – which showed the closeties between the Gold Coast and New Zealand.

“We are extremely pleased to have Air New Zealand back and the return of this service will be welcomed by the large number of New Zealanders who live on the Gold Coast and northern NSW but want to travel over the ‘ditch’ regularly to see family and friends,” he said.

“There are about 50,000 Kiwis living on the Gold Coast and it has been a challenging two years for loved ones wanting to see each other in both places.”

Mr Mills said it was hoped the other connections between the Gold Coast and New Zealand, in place prior to COVID-19, would be re-established soon.

“Pre-COVID-19, we also had flights between the Gold Coast and Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown and we would like to have them back as soon as possible,” he said.

“The New Zealand market is one of the strongest for the Gold Coast. Pre-COVID-19, more than 550,000 people travelled between the Gold Coast and New Zealand making it the airport’s largest international market.

“It was also the city’s second-largest international visitor market source, behind China.”

Destination Gold Coast CEO Patricia O’Callaghan hailed the return of Air New Zealand as another leap forward for recovery.

“With about one per cent of all Kiwis calling the Gold Coast home, we can’t wait to reunite families and friends, and importantly welcome back even more holidaymakers from today following Monday’s announcement that our Kiwi friends can visit without needing to isolate on their return,” Ms O’Callaghan said. 

“We know from our recent market survey that three in four Kiwi travellers are considering travelling outside of New Zealand within the next two years. Encouragingly, of those considering international travel, 59per cent are strongly considering visiting Australia, with the Gold Coast in the top three destinations Kiwi’s plan on visiting.”

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