Asia's largest airline has begun an historic year-round service
between Guangzhou and Christchurch, with the first Dreamliner
carrying several VIPs landing just before 5pm.
China Southern Airlines, in partnership with Christchurch
Airport and the South Island tourism industry, will operate the
direct service three times a week from today.
Christchurch Airport Chief Executive Malcolm Johns says history
is being made because China Southern Airlines was the first Chinese
carrier to fly to New Zealand and is now the
first to fly to the South Island.
"Over the past decade we have watched China Southern Airlines
steadily build Guangzhou into one of the world's important
international airport hubs. In doing so, the airline has also
successfully built the Canton route, connecting Australia and New
Zealand to China, Asia and Europe through Guangzhou.
"With this new service, Christchurch Airport, Christchurch city
and the South Island have an
opportunity to make a significant contribution to the Canton
Route, bringing Chinese visitors here and helping South Islanders
travel to China and beyond.
"It comes after two years of very focused work by the team at
Christchurch Airport, working in China with the team at China
Southern Airlines, to make this service a reality and I am
exceedingly proud of how our team has represented the city and
South Island on
the international stage to achieve this outcome. Christchurch
Airport has to compete hard for international air services as it is
our share of international visitors using us as a gateway which
provides the opportunity for growth given the size of our local
"This is a milestone day for the South Island. The new service
offers more than 70,000 seats in its first year, which means an
estimated growth in visitor spend of more than $100M across all
"Government statistics show that when Christchurch is the entry
point for international visitors, 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.
"Continually increasing numbers of Chinese visitors into the
South Island through our gateway airport highlight how welcome this
new airline service will be for travellers, as well
as giving air freight needs a fresh option for access to the
important Asian markets."
The visitors on the inaugural flight were welcomed with a "water
arch" over the plane after it touched down, a formal Maori welcome,
Canterbury's Cabinet Ministers and ten
Mayors from around the South Island in attendance, short speeches
and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Christchurch Airport continues to be New Zealand's fastest
growing point of entry for Chinese visitors with air services
beyond Australia. While national figures grew 33% over the first 10
months in 2015, Christchurch Airport's numbers grew 45%.
About China Southern Airlines - the largest airline in Asia, in
terms of fleet size as well as the number of passengers carried.
The airline has more than 90,000 employees and 64 offices around
the world, including offices in Auckland, Melbourne, Brisbane,
Sydney, Singapore, Tokyo, Vancouver, Los Angeles, New York, London,
Amsterdam, Paris and Dubai. In 2014, China Southern Airlines was
ranked as the world's third largest airline, measured in terms of
the number of passengers carried. It is a member of Sky Team, the
world's second largest airline alliance, so China Southern
Airlines passengers enjoy a global reach of 1052 international
destinations in 177 countries and regions.