May 22, 2022

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New Zealand to launch world's first 'wine airline'

New Zealand to launch world’s first ‘wine airline’

Alexandra Ferguson

(CNN) – There has been a lot of talk about alcohol and airplanes in recent years, and some airlines have completely banned the use of alcohol on board aircraft.

However, the New Zealand wine company is taking things in a slightly different direction by launching “the world’s first wine airline”.

Invivo will begin operating a route from the North Island of Auckland to Queenstown on the South Island later this year, with its first flight taking off in the coming months.

New Zealand players Rob Cameron and Tim Lightborn and their partner Sarah Jessica Parker Credit: Invivo

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Its co-founders, Tim Lightborne and Robin Cameron, leased the 34-seater Saab aircraft for Invivo Air’s inaugural voyage, with the aim of showing “business class in every mirror”.

The journey of a virgin

View this post on Instagram Invivo & Co (@invivowines) shared a post

Although the flight time is about two hours, the whole experience lasts 24 hours, including the visit of Invivo’s winemakers in Central Otago and their stay at The Hilton Queenstown.

“There will be some complimentary wine on board, as well as some non-alcoholic beverages,” Lightborn says.

“Invivo wines are available in a range and Rob and I can serve them to guests on the plane. It’s so much fun.”

Lightborn and Cameron decided to launch the Invivo Air service in December to celebrate the reopening of Auckland’s borders and promote domestic tourism in New Zealand.

They are to support those working in the Auckland hospitality sector, which has been severely affected during the 119-day lockout imposed following the outbreak of Govt-19 in the city.

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Half of the first airline tickets will be respectable, with priority given to tourist staff affected by Auckland Hospitality and Lockdown, as well as residents unable to meet loved ones on the South Island of New Zealand due to border closures.

“A lot of restaurants in Auckland are closed at the moment,” Lightborn explains. “So it was very difficult. We want to reward some of them with a flight to Queenstown, one of our major tourist destinations.

Promoting national tourism

The inaugural flight of Invivo Air will be a 24-hour experience, including a stay at the Hilton Queenstown Hotel. Credit: Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa

He hopes the flights will inspire the popular city of Queenstown, which attracted about three million visitors a year before the epidemic, more than 60% of whom were foreigners.

However, Lightborne said the resort town, located in the Otago region of New Zealand, was “having a hard time” due to a shortage of international tourists.

Not surprisingly, the team at Invivo found the process of building a new aircraft more complicated.

“We had to talk to some people in the industry about activities, challenges and all things,” Lightborn agrees.

“This is a test for us. But the response is positive. Thousands have registered. We could have sold the plane 100 times.”

Although the initial flight was indeed a “test”, Lightbourne said the group plans to operate regular flights from Auckland to Queenstown and hopes to add new locations in the future.

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“We have vineyards in Marlborough, which is also on the South Island,” he adds. “And on the North Island, we have some in Hawks Bay and the Gisborne area. We’d like to do some flights in that direction later this year.

Founded in 2008, Invivo produces wine from New Zealand, while working with Winders around the world to produce wine from key manufacturing areas, including the Prosecco area of ​​Veneto, Italy.

Invivo’s winery is located in De Gaulle, in the Waikato area south of Auckland.

Invivo was founded in 2008 by New Zealanders Rob Cameron and Tim Lightborn. Credit: Invivo

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Invivo’s various partners and collaborators include “And Just Like That …” star Sarah Jessica Parker and British TV presenter Graham Norton, and Lightburn points out that some stars may sometimes be seen on the Invivo Air flight.

“Both Graham and Sarah Jessica are really looking forward to going to New Zealand,” he adds. “So they could be one of the official guests on a flight in the future, of course.”

New Zealand has been widely praised for its response to Covit-19, and cases are significantly lower due to its strict border controls and isolation measures: more than 15,000 infections have been reported at the target to date.

However, with the exception of a brief isolation-free travel bubble with Australia, which ceased in July 2021, the epidemic has effectively closed the country from the rest of the world.

Invivo co-founders Rob Cameron and Tim Lightborn with partner Sarah Jessica Parker. Credit: Invivo

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This has proven to be an incredible challenge for many, especially businesses that rely on international tourism and those who are separated from family.

Lightborn says, “Everyone knows that it’s for the best.” But we really want to return to normalcy and open the door to international travel. It’s been almost two years. “

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Invivo Air complies with all applicable rules and regulations, including the issuance of a valid vaccination permit prior to boarding.

Although 50% of the seats on the first flight are available for purchase, the seat price has not yet been determined.

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