China Southern Airlines to fly direct to Christchurch
China Southern Airlines will begin flying a new year-round air service directly between Guangzhou, Mainland China and Christchurch from December 2015.
Christchurch Airport Chief Executive Malcolm Johns says the new service offers more than 70,000 seats and more than $100 million in visitor spend for the whole economy once it is fully established.
"That is positive news not only for the tourism industry but also for southern air freight needs, which add up to significant economic development opportunities for every region of the South Island.
"We know from official government statistics that when the entry point is Christchurch every South Island region benefits, because visitors on average leave around 85% of their spending in the South Island. This drops to less than 35% when the entry point is not Christchurch."
The airport has led a series of engagements in China over recent years to lift the profile of the South Island in China, strongly supported by major South Island tourism operators and by many regions.
"Flying in formation in China has made a powerful impression with China Southern Airlines," says Mr Johns. "As an airport, we were competing for this aircraft against cities including Rome, Istanbul, Cairo and Chicago. When it comes to footing it on the world stage, against this type of competition, we needed the South Island to stand up and make an impact, which it did on both counts.
"The South Island was strongly supported by both central and local government as it built its relationship with China Southern Airlines and many key travel trade partners in China over the past 18 months.
"The strong support from both central and local government was critical in this process. The Tourism Growth Partnership has been very supportive, as has Tourism New Zealand, and the New Zealand Consulate in Guangzhou was brilliant in every way we could have asked for," he says.
China Southern Airlines flies into Guangzhou, one of the fastest growing airport hubs in Asia, so this new service will provide South Islanders with direct international air connections to many parts of Asia and Europe.
Read the CIAL media release.