International flights return to Hobart Airport after 23 years!

Air New Zealand’s first Auckland to Hobart service touches down

Earlier today, at 10:43 AM AEST, the first scheduled international passenger flight to Hobart since 1998, arrived from Auckland Mangere Airport. The 214 seat Airbus A321NEO, ZK-NNA had the honour of operating this historic hop across the Tasman, a flight years in the making.

By 10:30 a large crowd of airport workers, spotters, avgeeks, photographers, politicians, and news crews had congregated at the top of Tower Hill to see the arrival. A few interviews were conducted by the major stations, and the plane came into view parallel to the runway, the iconic “All Blacks” livery standing out against the clouds. It was a pretty bumpy descent and landing by the looks of it, with the port landing gear touching down first, before the reversers of the Pratt and Whitney PurePower PW1100’s roared into life, slowing the 2.5 year old A321NEO to taxi round to bay 8.

ZK-NNA taxiing round to the terminal at Hobart Airport

The first international services to Hobart began way back in 1980, with TAA and Ansett flying to Christchurch, until Air New Zealand took over the service in the late 80s, briefly supplemented by a Qantas service to Auckland over summer 1989. The Christchurch service had limited success, and virtually empty flights were not uncommon towards the end of the 90s, leading to the route being dropped in 1998.

ZK-NNA’s passengers disembarking at Hobart Airport’s Gate 6

Back then, Greater Hobart’s population was around 195,0001, with many having a limited disposable income and Christchurch only having a population of 340,0002, so its something of a miracle the service was kept up so long. The prospects of this new link is much brighter however, Hobart, and the rest of the state is far, far more tourist friendly than 23 years ago. With world class facilities and a solid tourism brand, Tasmania will be an attractive destination for Kiwis looking for a change. While Hobart’s population hasn’t risen too dramatically, to around 230,0003, the choice of Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest city, population 1.7 million4, leaves the route with a far larger population to feed from. As long-haul international travel begins to resume in a year or two, Hobartians will also be able to make use of Auckland Airport’s excellent connections to the Pacific and the Americas, with shorter journey times than connecting via Melbourne or Sydney.

It was absolutely amazing being able to photograph this historic flight, and I’d like to apologise to my History teacher for skipping class to see it. Once again, thanks for reading my website, and I hope this has been an informative read!

1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 3234.6 – Population, Tasmania, Jun 1998. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1999.$File/32346_30%20Jun%201998.pdf.
2. Christchurch City Council. Christchurch City Fact Pack 2010. Christchurch: Christchurch City Council, 2010.
3. Burgess, Georgie. “Will Hobart’s population reach 300,000 within a decade?” ABC News (Hobart), October 30, 2018.
4. Auckland Council. Auckland’s Population. Auckland: Auckland City Council, 2018.

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