Chinese newcomer to fly daily from Auckland

By Owen Hembry

China Southern Airlines' first flight from Guangzhou to Auckland touched down on Saturday. Photo / Thinkstock
China Southern Airlines' first flight from Guangzhou to Auckland touched down on Saturday. Photo / Thinkstock

New arrival China Southern Airlines is boosting its Auckland service and will also link Kiwis to London.

The airline announced at an event last night that in three months time it will start flying daily from Auckland to Guangzhou, up from three times a week at present.

It also confirmed plans to operate connecting flights on to London.

Earlier, chief executive Tan Wan'geng said the airline had been re-engineering itself as an international network.

"With China's economic developments being so fast we would like to take this opportunity to launch more new international routes and so our next goal in the future is to be one of the best internationalised carriers in the world and launch more international routes," Wan'geng told the Herald through an interpreter.

China Southern Airlines' first flight from Guangzhou to Auckland touched down on Saturday.

The new route is expected to bring in 25,000 visitors in its first year, with an estimated $75 million of extra value to the economy.

According to Statistics New Zealand, Chinese visitor numbers grew 31.2 per cent in the year ended January to 127,837 people - New Zealand's fourth-biggest market.

Australasia was the airline's number one priority - number two was Europe. "China Southern serves the routes going to Paris and Amsterdam and we will be launching the London routes soon."

In the United States, China Southern served Los Angeles and would soon launch new routes to Vancouver.

"So you can tell that the internationalisation of China Southern in the past few years is quite rapid."

Investment in the aviation industry was huge with profit margins relatively low, Wan'geng said.

The International Air Transport Association had forecast a trend for more super-sized carriers.

"And, of course, it's our goal to be one of those super-sized, mega airlines in the world," he said. "In this case, then the profit margin on the profitability of the airline can be improved."

Chairman Si Xianmin said the new route between Auckland and Guangzhou acted as an air bridge between the two nations.

"The deeper meaning behind the launch is that we can help the people of the two countries to communicate more and enhance the exchanges in the areas of trade, economy, culture, tourism.

"In the past few years, we have been investing capacity on the routes going to New Zealand and Australia so especially after the launch of the New Zealand route we need to work on our next steps, which will be our new route from Guangzhou to London."

The airline understood that New Zealand and Australia had special connections with Britain, he said.

"So our next target will be to connect London to New Zealand and Australia via Guangzhou."

China Southern was expected to carry more than 80 million passengers this year and wanted to be a Skytrax five-star airline within two years.

The majority of capital needed for development came from banks and the airline, which was listed in Shanghai, Hong Kong and New York, had undertaken two public offerings during the past three years which had raised 13 billion RMB ($2.54 billion).

Air New Zealand has welcomed China Southern into the market and said with that airline's presence in China the whole New Zealand brand would grow.

First NZ Capital head of research Rob Bode said China Southern flying to London would provide more choice and competition for travellers.

"I guess it's only at the margin, they're [Air New Zealand] used to competition with plenty of airlines."

- NZ Herald

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