Air China will launch nonstop services between Beijing and Auckland from December 2015 after the New Zealand government approved a proposed alliance with Air New Zealand.
New Zealand Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the partnership between the two Star Alliance carriers was approved by cabinet on Monday and will last for five years and four months.
“This alliance means travellers will be able to access more flights and lower fares between New Zealand and Beijing and Shanghai, ensuring they have access to a greater range of choices,” Bridges said in a statement.
“In addition to expanding services, the alliance will mean Air China will actively market New Zealand as a visitor destination.”
The two carriers signed a statement of intent to partner on NZ-China routes in November 2014. Air NZ will place its NZ code on the new daily Air China flights, which are due to commence on December 10 operated by Airbus A330-200s.
According to schedules on the Air China website, CA 783 will depart Beijing at 0040 local time, arriving in Auckland at 1810 the same day. The reciprocal CA874 is scheduled to take off from Auckland at 2000 and touch down in the Chinese capital at 0430 the next day. It will be Air China’s first destination in NZ.
The Kiwi flag carrier will maintain its daily Boeing 787-9 service between Auckland and Shanghai as part of the alliance.
Air NZ said the alliance would boost access to domestic Chinese cities via Air China’s local network. Meanwhile, Air China would benefit from Air NZ’s network across New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific Islands and South America.
“China is New Zealand’s second largest inbound visitor market and by collaborating with a strong, well respected home market carrier like Air China we can work together to grow this market, and benefit customers through a new direct link between New Zealand and Beijing,” Air NZ chief executive Christopher Luxon said in a statement on Tuesday.
Air China chief executive Song Zhiyong said there had been growing economic, cultural and political exchanges between the two countries in recent times and the alliance would help grow air links.
“We are committed to working with our Star Alliance partner to meet the growing demand from travellers in both markets and provide greater benefits to them,” Song said.
The government’s authorisation on Tuesday follows the decision to extend Air NZ’s partnership with Cathay Pacific on Hong Kong-NZ routes on August 25.
Air NZ now has a series of government-approved partnerships operating to the key markets of China (Air China), Hong Kong and North Asia (Cathay), and South East Asia, Europe and Africa (Singapore Airlines), in addition to its tie-up with Virgin Australia on trans-Tasman routes.