China Southern Airlines flying high after first two years
The second anniversary of the South Island’s first direct service to mainland China is being celebrated, as passenger numbers rise and the service increases its frequency in response.
China Southern Airlines, the world’s third largest airline, began flying direct between Christchurch and Guangzhou mid-December 2015 and has increased to flying five days a week, increasing to seven days over Chinese New Year holiday period.
Justin Watson, Christchurch Airport Chief Aeronautical and Commercial Officer, says the 787 Dreamliner service is proving very popular with both Chinese visitors and South Island residents.
“In its first two years, the direct flight has carried more than 120,000 passengers between the two cities. This includes more than 30,000 Chinese visitors, each of whom spent on average $3000 dollars during their stay.” he says. “In addition, China Southern’s strong network and connections to Asia and Europe makes the “Canton route” service highly appealing, with more than a third of passengers originating from outside of China.
The direct link is not only benefitting economic development across the South Island, but specifically in Tekapo, where the airline has become a sponsor and partner in the area. The airline has become a long-term partner of the University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory, and helps contribute to the upkeep of the observatory and local area.
Justin Watson says Christchurch is New Zealand’s fastest growing entry point for Chinese visitors and China Southern Airlines’ share of those visitors has increased from 34 per cent to 60 percent.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says China Southern Airlines has proven to be an excellent link for the city.
“The direct link has greatly benefitted the city, and the South Island through educational, business and trade relationships,” she says. “The link is used by many of our producers whose products are popular in Asia, so having direct cargo access means they can get their perishable goods there quickly. Visitors arriving here appreciate Christchurch’s gateway position giving them access to the big blue skies, wide open green spaces, rivers, lakes, mountains, glaciers and famed southern hospitality they have heard so much about and want to experience for themselves.”
To commemorate the second anniversary of the China Southern Airlines, Christchurch Airport has commissioned a new themed airbridge, featuring the Dark Sky Reserve in the Mackenzie Country and the airline’s partnership with University of Canterbury’s Mt John Observatory. A colourful celebratory event was also held for 120 guests at the recently restored and re-opened Mona Vale homestead in Christchurch, on the banks of the Avon River.