The Southern Hemisphere’s largest Warbirds Airshow, Warbirds Over Wanaka, has been cancelled in the wake of the New Zealand Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Airshow, planned for Easter weekend, had been expected to attract 55,000 people over the three days with several thousand of those international visitors.
Organisers have confirmed all tickets will be refunded in full but have asked ticket holders to wait for a few days while organisers confirm specifics about how people will be able to access refunds.
Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager, Ed Taylor, says the decision wasn’t taken lightly.
“We have a small but dedicated team, many of them volunteers, who have spent the past two years building up to this event and to have it ripped out from under us at the last minute is tough. But, at all times we have the safety of our participants and visitors at heart and so have to accept we won’t have an Airshow this year.”
Organisers have taken into account the travel restrictions announced by the Government this weekend and also impending restrictions on large public gatherings and have made the call based on the safety of participants and Airshow visitors alike.
“Warbirds Over Wanaka is a bucket-list event for many international airshow fans and they are just gutted that their trip of a lifetime to come to New Zealand has been called off so late in the piece.”
Organisers are also aware of the many hours of practice that aircraft owners and display pilots have already put into perfecting their routines for the Airshow. “The amazing support of the RNZAF, RAAF and USAF whose combined support was going to make this an Airshow to remember.”
“Warbirds is a major contributor to the Wanaka economy with an estimated $20million economic benefit every Airshow and so the effects will be felt well beyond the Airshow gates with accommodation, hospitality and other activity providers expected to take a hit this Easter.”
Organisers looked at various other options such as holding a smaller Airshow just for locals or postponing to a later date but with uncertainty still around how the pandemic will play out, it was thought the best option for everyone was to cancel.
Ed says organisers will now be working with their sponsors and suppliers to minimise the financial impact on the organisation and then start working towards the next Airshow at Easter, 2022.
“We have amazing supporters and some are already pledging their support for 2022. We will be back in two years’ time with a show that will bigger and better than ever,” says Ed.