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29 Oct 2019

American Airlines to turbocharge tourism value via South Island

Christchurch Airport just announced direct flights between Christchurch and Los Angeles will turbocharge tourism value to New Zealand.

American Airlines, in association with Qantas, will operate the new service three times a week from October 2020 to March 2021.

Christchurch Airport Chief Aeronautical and Commercial Officer Justin Watson says the service will turbocharge the New Zealand tourism industry and the national economy, because statistics show American visitors landing into Christchurch are high value visitors.

"Americans who enter the country through Christchurch Airport spend 32% more and stay 34% longer than if they arrive elsewhere," he says.

"When they arrive into Christchurch, American visitors spend 77% of their time in the regions of the South Island, compared to the American visitor average of 51%.

"Based on government data, the seasonal service is forecast to bring in an extra $52 million in visitor spend for New Zealand, with $40 million of that in South Island regions. This is the ideal combination of national value impact and regional economic impact."

- Justin Watson, Chief Aeronautical and Commercial Officer

Mr Watson says the American Airlines service is a direct response to Americans' very strong interest in the South Island.

"US visitor arrivals into Christchurch grew by 14 percent last year, as part of our growth in passenger numbers being higher than the national average," he says.

"During a tourism delegation visit to the US July, travel agents told us they are getting increasing requests for travel to the South Island from visitors wanting to experience our place in the world."

Mr Watson says Christchurch Airport's strategy is to bring value to New Zealand through attracting high value visitors to the regions of the South Island.

"We know free independent travellers (FITs) with the South Island on their wish-list will stay longer, see more and spend more. They want to not only see and experience the spectacular South Island, but also go off the beaten track, do things they can't easily do in their own country, and experience our way of life.

"This service also complements the Antarctic connectivity from this airport, with the United States Antarctic Programme based here. It will of course also offer Kiwi travellers and producers' freight direct access to North America. We have every expectation the service will be well used - in both directions."