The new service makes Wanaka the 25th destination in Air New Zealand's national network and the 10th in the South Island, providing important connectivity to domestic and trans-Tasman flights and opening up significant tourism and growth opportunities for the region.

The flights, to be operated by Air New Zealand subsidiary Eagle Air, will utilise 19 seat Beech 1900D aircraft with a flight time of around one hour.

The daily service will depart Christchurch at 10.45am and arrive at Wanaka at 11.45am. The return journey will depart at 12.05pm and arrive at Christchurch at 1pm.

Fares will be similar to Christchurch-Queenstown flights, with prices starting at $76 one way, including taxes and levies.

Air New Zealand Managing Director and CEO Ralph Norris says lower domestic Express Class fares have changed the way people travel, making new destinations such as Wanaka an option for Air New Zealand and its customers.

"We have seen a 44% increase in domestic travel compared to pre Express Class two years ago, making flying an affordable travel option for many people.

"Together with significant growth in the Wanaka region over the past decade, we saw the need for a regular direct service to the town.

"For those who are regular travellers and holidaymakers to Wanaka, the news of a direct service from Christchurch instead of travelling via Queenstown means significant time and cost savings. It is also great news for Wanaka locals who can now access Air New Zealand's flight network directly from their home town.

"As a result we expect the service to provide significant benefits for Wanaka and the greater Queenstown Lakes region. As a result of being part of our network, Wanaka can look forward to a raised profile not only domestically but also in key overseas markets such as Australia, Europe and the US."

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Clive Geddes greeted the announcement of
Air New Zealand's Christchurch to Wanaka daily service with enthusiasm.

"This link will be of vital importance to Wanaka and is a coming of age for one of
New Zealand's fastest growing communities. Its a vote of confidence from
Air New Zealand in the future of the region and will receive widespread support from both the residents and the visitor industry."

Air New Zealand currently operates 122 domestic flights per week into and out of Queenstown, carrying more than 361,000 passengers each year.

Since the launch of Air New Zealand's domestic Express Class in November 2002, domestic Queenstown flights have carried an additional 32,000 passengers, a 21.4% increase.

"We've seen what can be achieved by working closely with the Queenstown tourism community and we look forward to a similarly successful relationship with Wanaka," said Mr Norris.

"Air New Zealand has worked hard over the past decade to help grow the tourism market in the area. The introduction of flights into Wanaka is an extension of that activity and it has been well received by key local tourism operators and other stakeholders."

Mr Norris says the new service will provide good connections with morning and afternoon domestic flights to and from Auckland and Wellington as well as with
Air New Zealand's afternoon trans-Tasman departures from Christchurch.

NOTE: The content of all Air New Zealand media releases are accurate at the time of issue, as stated at the top of each release. For updates on any changes, please contact Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand is proud to be a member of Star Alliance. The Star Alliance network was established in 1997 as the first truly global airline alliance to offer worldwide reach, recognition and seamless service to the international traveller. Its acceptance by the market has been recognised by numerous awards, including the Air Transport World Market Leadership Award, Best Airline Alliance by both Business Traveller Magazine and Skytrax. The member airlines are: Adria Airways, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Blue1, bmi, Continental Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, United and US Airways. Aegean Airlines, Air India, Brussels Airlines and TAM have been announced as future members. Overall, the Star Alliance network offers 19,500 daily flights to 1,071 airports in 171 countries.

For more information about Air New Zealand visit www.airnewzealand.com and for more information about Star Alliance visit www.staralliance.com.