A BAE-146 Whisper Jet is to land at Te Anau Airport Manapouri on Wednesday in the first jet aircraft landing for the airport. Airport manager Evan Pearce said the jet is owned by Air National and operated by Vincent Aviation Ltd of Wellington. It will leave Wellington at 8.15am and land at Te Anau Airport Manapouri at 9.45am.
The jet will be welcomed by an arch of water from the Te Anau and Manapouri Volunteer Fire Brigades and a flyover by local helicopters and planes. A piper will pipe the visitors in and they will be welcomed by Southland Mayor Frana Cardno, airport chief executive Erik Barnes and Mr Pearce.
"This is a big event for this size of airport, as not even Napier, Wanaka, Timaru or Nelson have regular visits from a jet this size," Mr Pearce said.
"When you look at what we have done over the past 18 months to bring the airport up to the standard needed, this is the icing on the cake to actually see the aircraft touching down on our runway."
The airport widened the runway strip area and installed approach light system to allow for jet operations.
Wednesday's flight will bring 18 Tauck Tours clients to Te Anau where they will bus to Milford before climbing back onto the Whisper jet and flying to Queenstown.
Early next year it has been rumored that the Tauck Tours and its aircraft will stay up to two nights in Te Anau before heading to Queenstown. This will be very beneficial to the businesses of Te Anau and Manapouri.