Tasmania’s first international flight in 23 years took off from Auckland on what has been hailed as a “special” day for the state.
Air New Zealand flight NZ197 departed Auckland at 9 a.m. NZST on Thursday and will land at 11 a.m. AEST at Hobart International Airport.
Speaking from Auckland, Tourism Tasmania Managing Director John Fitzgerald said it was an exciting and historic day.
“There hasn’t been an international flight to Hobart for 20 years from New Zealand. So it’s special, ”he said.
The flights were underwritten by the Australian Federal Government, which announced a $ 50 million investment last year to return international flights to Hobart.
Much of this money was used to modernize Hobart International Airport.
Air New Zealand has successfully bid for the rights to operate the route and has committed to providing twice-weekly service from Auckland for the next two years.
The airline’s chief executive, Greg Foran, said he was keeping an open mind about adding a service on Tuesday.
“Potentially, as we move into the winter season, the ski season, we might end up adding a third,” he said.
“We think it will pay off quite well eventually and we’re excited to see it begin.”
The last scheduled international flights from Hobart, a Hobart-Christchurch route, ceased in 1998.
Since then, the island state has seen charter flights and intermittent overseas services to Antarctica.
Thursday’s flight is carrying Air New Zealand executives, business partners and Kiwi journalists eager to explore Apple Island.
The flights were made possible by the Trans-Tasman bubble, which began on Monday when New Zealand removed the need for Australian travelers to complete a fortnight’s quarantine upon arrival.