Asian carrier Hong Kong Airlines is to expand its international network in the Pacific with the inauguration of its first flights to New Zealand. The HNA Group subsidiary will introduce a link between its Hong Kong International Airport base and Auckland from the final quarter of the year adding to the long-standing existing non-stop operations of Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific Airways on the city pair.
The daily Hong Kong Airlines service will launch from November 10, 2016 and will be operated using an Airbus A330-200 configured with 283-seats, including a 24 seat Business Class cabin. It will boost daily capacity between Hong Kong and Auckland by up to 50 per cent, complementing the daily offer from Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific Airways (the latter offers a second daily rotation between December and March to meet seasonal demand).
The additional flight will be the first of the services each day to leave from Hong Kong with a scheduled departure time of 15:20, which will see the aircraft arrive in Auckland at 07:30 the following morning. According to data from intelligence provider OAG, the existing Air New Zealand flight departs at 19:10, but will revert to 17:55 in the winter. Cathay Pacific’s year-round rotation departs around 21:00, albeit its seasonal second rotation is scheduled for 15:25 during its northern hemisphere winter operation.
“With the success of our service to Australia earlier this year, Hong Kong Airlines is more than delighted to announce this second long haul service, operating daily to Auckland, New Zealand,” said Li Dianchun, chief commercial officer, Hong Kong Airlines.
There has been a steady increase year-on-year in the number of Hong Kong and China travellers visiting New Zealand. According to official figures from Statistics New Zealand, as of March 2016, the total number of visitors from Hong Kong and China were up 19.1 percent and 27.8 percent, respectively.
“Leveraging on our connectivity in Asia via the international hub Hong Kong, we believe this Hong Kong Airlines new service to Auckland will be welcomed by passengers from Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chengdu, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Okinawa, Tokyo, Bangkok and Taipei, offering them more travel options,” added Dianchun.
The table below highlights the rise in Chinese and Hong Kong visitor arrivals into New Zealand over the past five years. The data from Statistics New Zealand highlights 12 month flows up until the end of March each year. The largest flows into New Zealand are directly from Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong and via the Australian cities of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
Around three quarters of the arrivals into New Zealand from China are leisure travellers and while the section of the market also dominates from Hong Kong (59.3 percent), the visiting friends and relatives share is much larger than in mainland China (25.6 percent versus 11.3 percent), according to Statistics New Zealand.