Direct daily Airbus A330-200 flights between China and New Zealand launched by China Southern Airlines just over one year ago have boosted Chinese visitor numbers to New Zealand by almost 40 per cent, Auckland International Airport announced last week, showing the clear value of new air services. The airline and other parties, such as government agency Tourism New Zealand and Auckland Airport, had invested heavily in promoting New Zealand within China and New Zealand's economy had reaped the benefits of the service, with increased Chinese visitor spending.
"This significant increase in visitor arrival numbers and spending is a clear indication that increasing air links between countries is an important factor in growing tourism revenue," said Adrian Littlewood, Chief Executive Officer, Auckland International Airport. "In September this year we saw Chinese visitor numbers leap by 74.2 percent compared with the previous September, with arrivals from the Guangdong Province, the home of China Southern, increasing by nearly 60 per cent year-on-year."
China Southern Airlines first launched services between Guangzhou and Auckland in April 2011 and increased to a daily service in September 2011. The flights complement the long-standing services between Auckland and Hong Kong and Air New Zealand’s flights to mainland China which were introduced to Shanghai in November 2006 and Beijing in July 2008. China Southern says that alongside O&D demand it is always carrying strong passenger flows connecting Australasian countries with Europe via Guangzhou. As part of its expansion plan for the region it envisages growing to a twice daily service on the Auckland to Guangzhou route in the future.
"China Southern Airlines is committed to investing in and growing our service with New Zealand as part of our expansion plans for Australasia," said Henry Dai, General Manager, China Southern Airlines New Zealand. "The past year has shown us there is demand for greater travel between our two countries for both leisure and business purposes and we look forward to working with New Zealand authorities and the industry to develop our service further."
The 11.5-hour China Southern Airlines service between Auckland and Guangzhou had also helped New Zealand businesses to engage more easily with southern China. New Zealand's Ministry of Business, Innovation and Development has revealed that China is officially New Zealand's second biggest tourist market, after spending by Chinese visitors jumped by 37 per cent in the year to the end of September 2012.
Chinese visitors spent 555 million NZ dollars ($458.15 million) in the period, overtaking the spending of travelers from the United Kingdom (545 million NZ dollars) for the first time. However, Chinese visitors would have to more than triple their spending to overtake New Zealand's largest tourist market Australia, which is 1.7 billion NZ dollars.
In a further boost on the route, China Southern Airlines is to use its Airbus A380 on its daily flights between Guangzhou and Auckland on December 10, 2012 and December 14, 2012 due to a special airline event in New Zealand during that period.