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Tourism New Zealand

Surge in air capacity coming in 2011 for New Zealand

Tourism New Zealand’s Chief Executive Kevin Bowler and GM Asia Markets Mark Frood look on as China Southern Airlines CEO Wangeng Tan and Auckland Mayor Len Brown shake hands at the launch of the new Guangzhou to Auckland route.

New Zealand tourism has received a major boost with news that China Southern Airlines will open its first route into the country and Thai Airways will increase the frequency of flights on its Bangkok to Auckland service.

China Southern Airlines announced its new route on Sunday, saying it would begin flying three times weekly between Guangzhou and Auckland, via Melbourne. The service will begin from April next year and will add 44,000 seats into New Zealand from the Asian region annually.

The news got even better today, when Thai Airways president Piyasvasti Amranand announced Thai Airways would increase the number of flights on its Bangkok to Auckland route in July 2011, from five per week to seven. The increased frequency is expected to add 30,000 additional inbound seats on the route.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler said visitor numbers from Asia had grown by 49,838 in the year to October and the additional flights into New Zealand would allow that growth to continue.

"These new services alone will add more than 70,000 extra inbound seats into New Zealand from Asia, paving the way for further outstanding growth from the Asian region.

"We’ve seen a big increase in the number of Asian travellers coming to New Zealand in the past year and increased air capacity is exactly what New Zealand needs to keep that momentum going."

New Zealand welcomed 116,410 visitors from China in the year to October; an increase of 10.9 per cent on the same period last year. Arrivals from South East Asia were also strong, with combined visitors from Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore numbering more than 70,000 in the year to October.

The new Asian connections cap off an impressive year of air link announcements for New Zealand.

Jetstar will launch direct flights between Singapore and Auckland from March next year and AirAsia X has announced a direct Kuala Lumpur to Christchurch service, opening in April.

Other new routes include a China Airlines service from Taipei to Auckland from January and a Continental Airlines route from Houston to Auckland, beginning in 2012.

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