A direct daily air service between China and New Zealand, launched a year ago by China Southern Airlines, has produced a nearly 40 per cent year-on-year growth in Chinese visitor numbers to New Zealand and pushed China into Auckland Airport's second highest inbound market behind Australia.
New Zealand's economy has reaped the benefits of this daily service, with Chinese visitor spend an estimated $522million from June 2011 to June 2012 – an increase of 27 per cent from the previous year, and proof positive that creating favourable market conditions can drive increased value from key inbound markets.
"This significant increase in visitor arrival numbers and spend is a clear indication that increasing air links between countries is an important factor in growing tourism revenue. In September this year we saw Chinese visitor numbers leap by 74.2 per cent compared with the previous September, with arrivals from the Guangdong province, the home of China Southern, increasing by nearly 60 per cent year-on-year," says Adrian Littlewood, incoming CEO of Auckland Airport.
"We are pleased to see such dramatic growth in visitor numbers, particularly as China Southern Airlines and a number of other parties, such as Tourism New Zealand and ourselves, have invested heavily in promoting New Zealand as a top travel destination within China, and will continue to do so."
Auckland Airport launched Ambition 2020 earlier this year, with a programme of strategic activity created to grow New Zealand visitor arrivals and spend over the next decade. This includes working with airlines, such as China Southern Airlines, on route development opportunities that will accelerate growth and have a positive impact on the tourism industry and the country's economy. Working with Government agencies to make it easier for foreign travellers to obtain visas and exporters to do business in New Zealand will be key to further progress.
China Southern Airlines officially launched its Canton Route last month, connecting Australasian countries with Europe via Guangzhou. This is part of its rigorous expansion plan for the region, which includes growing the number of direct operations such as increasing to a twice daily service on the Auckland to Guangzhou route.
"China Southern Airlines is committed to investing in and growing our service with New Zealand as part of our expansion plans for Australasia. The past year has shown us there is demand for greater travel between our two countries for both leisure and business purposes and we look forward to working with New Zealand authorities and the industry to develop our service further," says Mr Henry Dai, China Southern Airlines’ New Zealand General Manager.
At the launch of the daily service in November last year, the airline also announced its intention to explore hubbing options to South America. This, along with a twice daily service into Auckland, could more than double New Zealand’s inbound tourism growth and revenue from China.
"The growth we’re seeing out of China, fuelled by China Southern Airlines’ commitment to its New Zealand service, demonstrates the demand that exists in China for travel to countries such as New Zealand. It’s up to the tourism industry to help airlines to fill planes by delivering and marketing a desirable product, particularly to higher value mono New Zealand visitors from China," says Kevin Bowler, CE of Tourism New Zealand.
As part of its Ambition 2020 plan, Auckland Airport is continuing to invest in a range of initiatives to grow tourism and trade potential for New Zealand with China, including strategic partnerships, industry programmes and marketing activities.
The daily China Southern Airlines service operates between Auckland and Guangzhou, the capital of the Guangdong province and a major importing and exporting hub in China. Guangzhou, formerly Canton, is China's third largest city and is an important trade region for many New Zealand businesses. Since commencing daily flights, New Zealand businesses have been able to engage more easily with this thriving trade region (GDP of US $133.5 billion).
China Southern Airlines is the world's third largest airline as measured by passengers carried and Asia's largest airline in both fleet size and passengers carried. The airline flies to 121 destinations, flying A330-200 aircraft between Auckland and Guangzhou, which have the capability to transport perishable and other high value goods. Currently the airline still has 136 aircraft on order, include 10 most recent models of B787-800 and one aircraft jumbo A380-800 (four have been delivered earlier this year), which creates big potential for future growth.
Flight time from Auckland to Guangzhou is approximately 11.5 hours.