South Island success - China Southern Airlines increases flights

A significant vote of confidence in the South Island has come today with news China Southern Airlines will increase its direct services to Christchurch over the important summer season.

The airline currently flies three times a week between Guangzhou and Christchurch, but today announced it will increase its service to five times a week from December 12, and daily between January 15 and February 17.

Christchurch Airport Chief Aeronautical and Commercial Officer Justin Watson says the increases in services will provide a huge economic boost for the regions of the South Island and are a direct result of the regions collectively working together.

"The regions of the South Island have been flying in formation in the China market for the past two years, working together to achieve the commencement of the direct service last December" he says.  "These extra flights are a response to the awesome effort by the regional tourism organisations and businesses of the South Island, which are punching
above their weight in their efforts to be great hosts to increasing numbers of Chinese visitors. The increased flights are a result of strong demand from Chinese visitors who can't get enough of South Island scenery and hospitality.

"The extra flights represent an increase of more than 50% over the important summer season and have been announced a few days ahead of the first anniversary of the airline's direct service between Mainland China and Christchurch."

Tracy Johnston, General Manager of Destination Marlborough, says this is brilliant news for Marlborough and the Sound Island. "Since our first visit to China in June,  as part of a China Southern and Christchurch Airport led promotional tour,  we have definitely seen more interest from Chinese travel sellers planning to include Marlborough in their travel itineraries.  For the airline to back this up with increased capacity into Christchurch over the summer months demonstrates the demand is there.  Our region is poised and ready for more Chinese travellers this summer."   

In the Hurunui District, Graeme Abbot, General Manager of Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa, says he's delighted to hear of the increased services from China.  "After a tough couple of weeks, this could not be better timing for Hanmer Springs as a destination. I'm delighted to say this destination has never looked better and we look forward to welcoming
China Southern  customers  to our village, as part of their South Island experience.  Like the rest of the South Island, we have experienced growth from our Asian markets, primarily due to the increase in arrivals at Christchurch Airport."

Chief Executive at Tourism West Coast, Jim Little, says tourism is booming on the West Coast thanks to China Southern Airlines. "The increased capacity from China has had the effect of very significant increases in guest nights and spending on the West Coast. This is substantiated by latest regional tourism statistics, as well as feedback from operators, particularly jade shops."

Justin Watson says it's not just Chinese visitors who are taking advantage of the China Southern service.

"The airline's Dreamliner service is proving very popular for South Islanders who are flying direct to Guangzhou, and onto many destinations across Europe. China Southern Airlines is the world's third largest airline and flies to 190 destinations worldwide, so literally connects
us to the world's favourite attractions.

"South Islanders have never been as connected through this airport than they are this summer and we are seeing more and more of them using China Southern Airlines to get to places they want to see.

"In addition, the extra services will provide a boost to the available airfreight capacity out of the South Island. This comes at a key time when South Island exporters are wanting to get their high value food products such as live crayfish to key markets".

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