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Queenstown Airport night flights nigh

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/04/2016

Queenstown's airport is preparing to welcome its first night passengers as an $18 million upgrade wraps up ahead of the winter tourist boom.

Workers have worked nights for the last six months putting in upgrades needed for planes to land at the airport after dark.

The changes, including a new lighting system, widening of the runway and resurfacing, were all part of safety conditions set by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The last parts of the lighting will be put in this week before testing, with the airport saying it'll be able to take passengers as late as 9.25pm from the end of the month.

The airport says the work could allow add an extra 100,000 seats between Queenstown and Auckland each year and that the upgrade will be a game-changer for international passengers, who will have more flexibility in their trip into and across the country.

But despite coming in under budget and on time, the project hasn't been without its issues.

The pilots' association threatened to blacklist the destination over safety concerns the upgrades didn't go far enough.

They eventually backed down after their concerns were addressed by the airport and Air New Zealand in late January.

Last year Queenstown Airport experienced its busiest year with 1.5 million people passing through.

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