China Southern Airlines charter for Christchurch

Christchurch Airport and China Southern Airlines (CZ) have today announced a series of firsts for Christchurch and the South Island.

China Southern Airlines will operate the first commercially flown B787 Dreamliner to Christchurch, as part of a one-off charter programme next February, for Chinese New Year.

Airport CEO Jim Boult says the flight is a win-win-win for the airport, the airline and the South Island. 

"This charter flight will be the first Dreamliner to fly to Christchurch commercially,  the first Chinese airline to fly to New Zealand's second largest city and the first China Southern charter flight to the South Island," says Mr Boult.

"It is a special charter from the airline's Guangzhou hub and a significant opportunity for trade and tourism in the South Island. We are seeing tourism from China continuing to grow, with Chinese visitor arrivals into Christchurch up 42% in October. The charter flight will prove the opportunity for scheduled flights and a direct service that will also appeal to exporters and importers.

"The arrival and departure times are ideally timed for other connections and to enable travellers to arrive and depart at times conducive to enjoying their time in the South Island."

General Manager New Zealand for China Southern Airlines, Mike Ma, says the airline is confident seats on the charter flight will be keenly sought after.

"We're delighted to bring the February charter to Christchurch, which we recognise as the gateway to the spectacular South Island.  So many of our travellers want to see and experience all the South Island has to offer, so this will be a wonderful charter for travellers lucky enough to be aboard".

Mr Ma says the flight will leave Guangzhou at 3pm on February 2 and arrive in Christchurch at 0730 on February 3, departing at 10am the same day. The charter flight will carry 228 passengers in a three-class cabin configuration.  

The travellers will be greeted on arrival at Christchurch Airport with a special Maori welcome and VIP guests will be treated to a celebratory lunch to mark the occasion.

"We have been in discussions with China Southern for some time and are confident the success of the charter will encourage airline managers to confirm regular scheduled services," says Mr Boult.

"Like us, the airline knows how much Chinese travellers want to visit the South Island. Images of the South Island bring Chinese travellers to this country and they love flying in over the Southern Alps and seeing the scenery themselves. We will work with all stakeholders and tourism operators to ensure the February charter flight will be the first China Southern Christchurch arrival of many."

About China Southern

China Southern Airlines is based in Guangzhou and operates the largest fleet, most developed route network and largest passenger capacity of any airline in The People's Republic of China. The airline currently operates more than 500 passenger and cargo transport aircraft, including Boeing 787,777, 747, 757 & 737 and Airbus A380, 330, 321, 320, 319. 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.

The airline has more than 1,930 daily flights to 193 destinations in 35 countries and regions across the world. Through cooperation with SkyTeam member airlines, the airline's global route network spans 1024 destinations to 187 countries and regions.

Last year, China Southern transported more than 86 million passengers, ranking the carrier first in Asia and the fifth among the 240 Airlines in IATA , topping all Chinese airlines for 34 years.

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