And the launch of Air New Zealand’s new service has already been a roaring success. Initially slated as a trial for the national carrier, high demand for the route meant the day of the inaugural flight Air New Zealand announced it would become a permanent fixture.
More than 20,000 seats have already been snapped up. An Airbus A320 jet will travel from Auckland to Invercargill five evenings a week, while flights out of the southern city will return to Auckland five mornings a week as well.
The flights present significant opportunities for local businesses, community connectivity and Southland’s burgeoning tourism market – and also makes it significantly easier, and more affordable, for others to venture south. The flight will make travel to Invercargill easier and more affordable for domestic and international visitors, who previously had to layover in at least one other main centre to visit Invercargill.
With the new route, Invercargill Airport – recently given a modern makeover – became the first regional airport in the country to host a regular jet service. It is a huge coup for the city, itself set to undergo a transformation in a multi-million-dollar redevelopment heralded as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revitalise the heart of the city.
Consent and funding for the $160 million-dollar project has been confirmed. The project has been spearheaded by HWCP – a joint venture between H.W. Richardson Group and the Invercargill City Council – and is relatively unusual, in the sense that it has created a partnership between private and public funders.
HWCP chairman Scott O’Donnell says the project will create a vibrant, bustling city centre.
“This is about making a CBD that makes sense for the heart of Invercargill and breathing new life into the area.”
The O’Donnell family is contributing up to $25m to the project, which also involves investment from Invercargill hotelier Geoff Thompson (up to $25m), Invercargill City Council (up to $30m), Community Trust South ($20m), the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund (loaning $19.5m), and a bank loan of $50m.
The redevelopment will include eateries, retailers, a covered multi-storey carpark, a medical centre, office blocks and apartments.