China Southern Airlines returns to Christchurch

Hundreds of Chinese travellers will celebrate Chinese New Year this month by travelling to the South Island.

Christchurch Airport and China Southern Airlines (CZ) will celebrate the return of the B787 Dreamliner, with the first of this summer's charter flights arriving on February 15.

Airport Chief Executive Malcolm Johns says visitors who enjoyed last year's inaugural charter flights have encouraged others to travel here this year.

"Just as last year's visitors did, the visitors from Guangzhou will land in Christchurch, then travel around the South Island to enjoy the experiences they have heard so much about," he says.

"The South Island is our place in the world and Chinese visitors want to experience the wide open spaces, mountains, lakes, glaciers, starlit skies and all manner of adventures, as well as the famous southern hospitality. The charter visitors want to treat themselves to something special over Chinese New Year and since it heralds the beginning of The Year of The Sheep, it is even more fitting they land in Canterbury!"

General Manager New Zealand for China Southern Airlines, Mike Ma, says seats on the charter flight have been keenly sought after.

"We're delighted to bring the February charters to Christchurch, the gateway to the spectacular South Island.  Last year's charters were very popular and the GZL travel agency has since had lots of inquiries about seats on any available flights this year."

The celebration will begin very soon after the visitors land. They will walk into the specially decorated Christchurch Airport terminal to be welcomed with performances by the Christchurch Pops Choir, with many visitors expected to take advantage of a special photo opportunity available in the terminal.

Mr Johns says the South Island continues to be New Zealand's fastest-growing travel destination for Chinese visitors, with Christchurch its natural gateway.

"Latest figures from Statistics NZ show Christchurch Airport has seen a more than 50% increase in the number of Chinese passengers in the 12 months to November 2014, compared to the previous year. That highlights the fascination Chinese travellers have for the South Island," he says.

"The airport's growth in passenger arrivals means the gains from Chinese tourism will spread across all regions in the South Island, which is great news for regional economies and employment."

About China Southern Airlines

China Southern Airlines operates the largest fleet, most developed route network and world's 3rd largest passenger capacity of any airline and the largest in Asia, and The People's Republic of China.

China Southern Airlines currently operates more than 500 passenger and cargo transport aircraft. The airline fleet is ranked first in Asia and fifth among the 240 Airlines in IATA, in terms of fleet size. China Southern Airlines is the first airline in the world to operate both A380 and 787.

China Southern Airlines has more than 1,930 daily flights to 190 destinations in 40 countries and regions across the world. Through its SkyTeam member airlines, China Southern Airlines' global route network spans 1024 destinations to 187 countries and regions and nearly every major world metropolis.

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