New Zealand and China have signed an agreement to triple the number of daily flights between the two countries, a move hailed by New Zealand’s tourism and trade industries.
The new air services arrangement will allow three daily return services from each country, up from one. With China Southern Airlines and Air New Zealand currently operating daily return flights between China and Auckland, the existing cap had essentially prevented further growth and limited New Zealand’s ability to tap into the growing Chinese market, Auckland Airport general manager Charles Spillane said.
“This announcement offers a major medium-term opportunity for New Zealand to achieve some of its big tourism and trade goals,” Spillane said. “The size of the China market opportunity, and the projected growth, is simply extraordinary.”
However, Spillane noted that Australia currently has about ten times as many air connections to China as New Zealand does, with China Southern alone planning to increase weekly flight to Australia from 32 to 110 over the next three years. But he said the increase in available air rights would strengthen the case for airlines looking to expand their networks.
“Having a higher ceiling on air-rights is an important part of the sales process,” he said. “Committing to a new or expanded air service as part of a global network is a major decision for an airline. As well as needing confidence in the business case and the market opportunity, they need confidence in the policy environment, including the availability of air-rights. This announcement will give them that confidence.”