By ROXANNE MILLAR
THE land of the long, white cloud just got closer.
The arrival of an extra low-cost airline at the Gold Coast Airport next week has prompted a pricewar on international flights to New Zealand.
Virgin off-shoot Pacific Blue will begin twice-weekly flights from the Gold Coast to Christchurch next Tuesday, adding to Freedom Air's 13 weekly flights.
The increased competition has forced flights down to an average of $200 one-way, making it cheaper than ever before to fly to New Zealand.
However, Gold Coast Airport chief Dennis Chant is skeptical the prices will stay low for long.
"They are very, very sharp fares and the airlines would not be making a lot of money out of them," he said.
"Prices have never been cheaper and our New Zealand numbers have reflected that, with record highs driven by the increase in capacity."
Mr Chant said the increase in capacity would be good news for tourism on the Tweed and Gold Coast.
"New Zealand is our biggest international market and growing very nicely," he said.
"The numbers associated with the increase in capacity will spread as far south as Ballina and Byron Bay.
"Flights to New Zealand are almost becoming like those to Australian cities now."
Pacific Blue spokesperson Amanda Bolger said the prices would be sustainable and open a new market.
"We believe they are sustainable and will create demand by allowing more people to fly," she said.
"There is a lot of support on the Gold Coast for us and we are expecting good loads in both directions.
"If there is support and demand for the service then we will consider increasing the number of destinations to choose from," she said.
"We are very excited about starting from the Gold Coast."