National flag carrier Air New Zealand is now set to ramp up its China capacity with the resumption of Shanghai services from the beginning of May.
May service restorations
Next month will see the ramp up of China services on a couple of fronts for the New Zealand carrier. First off, on May 2, Air New Zealand’s alliance partner Air China will touch down in Auckland for the first time in three years.
The partnering effectively gives Air New Zealand customers a direct route to Beijing – the world’s most populous capital city.
On the following day May 3, Air New Zealand’s Auckland-Shanghai flights return to a daily scheduling.
Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty said the resumption of the Beijing-Auckland route and daily flights to Shanghai were major milestones for the airline and for New Zealand’s tourism industry as capacity to and from China ramps back up.
“We’re thrilled to welcome our alliance partner Air China back to New Zealand and extend our Shanghai route to daily. China is a key market for us and the New Zealand tourism industry.”
“The return of this route will help connect even more Chinese visitors with the amazing experiences New Zealand has to offer.”
The restoration of these two services will mean the delivery of around 6,500 seats a week between Auckland and China.
The key China tourism sector
Historical air travel between New Zealand and China dates back to the 1970s. However, direct flights between the two countries were not established until the 1990s. Before that, passengers had to make stopovers in other countries, such as Australia or Hong Kong, to travel between New Zealand and China.
In 1986, Air New Zealand operated its first charter flight to China, carrying a group of New Zealand businesspeople to Beijing. The flight stopped in Sydney, Australia, before continuing on to Beijing.
In 1990, the New Zealand government signed an air services agreement with China, which allowed for direct flights between the two countries. In the same year, Air New Zealand operated its first scheduled flight to China, flying between Auckland and Shanghai.
In 2004, the national flag carrier launched direct flights between Auckland and Beijing, becoming the first airline to operate non-stop flights between China and New Zealand.
Pre-pandemic, China was New Zealand’s second-largest international visitor market, with 450,000 visitors in 2019 and one of the most valuable in terms of holiday visitor spend, bringing in $1.5 billion.
The resumption of the Beijing-Auckland route forms a part of the strategic alliance between Air New Zealand and Air China. Ms Geraghty said the partnership with Air China would help to stimulate tourism in New Zealand and also aid the industry’s recovery.
“China is an incredibly important inbound visitor markets, and we expect interest in visiting New Zealand to continue to grow among Chinese travellers.”
“Our strategic alliance with Air China provides additional capacity and improved connectivity, helping us to meet demand and showcase New Zealand as a world-class tourism destination.
“We can’t wait to welcome back even more Chinese visitors to our shores and show them the warm and friendly hospitality that New Zealand is known for.”
The New Zealand carrier’s customers also have access to Air China’s comprehensive network of more than 300 routes, while Air China customers have access to NZ destinations and its Pacific network.