Air New Zealand will have a competitor between Auckland and Shanghai over summer with China Eastern set to start a seasonal service on the route from December.
Shanghai-based China Eastern has announced a four times weekly Auckland-Shanghai service using Airbus A330 aircraft starting on December 9, which will increase to daily in January 2015. The last of the seasonal services was scheduled for March 28, Auckland Airport said on Tuesday.
China Eastern general manager for Oceania Kathy Zhang says the positive response to two charter flights to Auckland during the 2014 Chinese New Year gave the airline confidence to start scheduled services over the summer school holiday period.
“That success has played a crucial role in our decision to offer this new seasonal operation,” Zhang said.
“New Zealand is one of the most popular destinations for Chinese travellers and we are confident we will experience strong demand for our new service.”
Currently, Air NZ flies daily between Auckland and Shanghai-Pu Dong Airport using Boeing 767-300ER and 777-200ER aircraft, with the 787-9 Dreamliner due to take over the route from December 14.
Auckland Airport acting general manager of aeronautical commercial Charles Spillane said China Eastern would add 47,000 extra seats on the route and Shanghai represented a huge growth opportunity for New Zealand tourism.
“With the introduction of China Eastern Airlines, we are expecting double-digit growth from the Shanghai market during the peak New Zealand summer period,” Spillane said.
“Not only will this new seasonal service deliver more capacity and choice for travellers but it will also stimulate demand by diversifying the product offering on this route.”
In Oceania, China Eastern currently flies to Melbourne and Sydney from its Shanghai hub and previously also served Cairns. The Skyteam alliance member is a codeshare partner with Qantas.