Global parcels giant FedEx yesterday began direct United States-Auckland services with a dedicated freighter which flies on to Sydney and southern China.
The Memphis-based logistics company said the weekly service would help boost trade in some of New Zealand's most important markets.
The MD-11 aircraft will be used on the Los Angeles-Honolulu-Auckland-Sydney-Guangzhou route and FedEx says it will be the first express transportation service to fly directly to this country from the United States.
FedEx Express Australasia managing director Kim Garner said New Zealand customers shipping from the US on a Friday would get delivery as early as next business day and there would also be increased freight capacity for New Zealand trade with Australia.
The three-engine aircraft can carry 79 tonnes of freight.
"What we're seeing is connecting individual countries to the global marketplace," said Garner. "Once upon a time people used to talk about country to country or what's the biggest economy in the world, but nowadays it is the global economy."
It was not only the surge in online shopping that had led to increased demand for parcel shipping. New trends in delivery timeframes were contributing as well.
"Once people used to warehouse things around the world but it's probably simpler and cheaper to warehouse centrally and be able to move products across global markets quickly via air express rather than pay the cost of inventory holding, particularly for high-value goods and electronic goods."
Main imports from the US are computer parts, electronics, spare parts for the automotive industry and manufacturing, clothing and medical equipment.
Many customers were small to medium enterprises - a big part of the New Zealand economy.
FedEx delivers to more than 220 countries and territories with an annual revenue of US$43 billion ($52 billion).
It has 130 people working in New Zealand and a base at Auckland Airport.
While FedEx is a specialist door-to-door service, freight is an important revenue source for airlines with the bulk carried in belly holds of scheduled services.