Air New Zealand has joined other airlines in scaling back services to China.

The airline announced today it would cut its Shanghai service from daily to four times a week.

The cutback is due to an expected decline in demand for travel between New Zealand and China.

The airline currently operates seven return services per week between Auckland and Shanghai.


From February 18 to March 31, this will reduce to four return flights per week. There is no change to the remainder of the airline's schedule, including its Hong Kong service.

Air New Zealand senior manager customer care and communications Doug Grant says the airline is closely monitoring the situation and is taking steps to reduce the impact on customers.

"While our Shanghai services are at capacity in the coming weeks, with new group travel restrictions in place we expect demand may ease in the short-term,'' he said.

"To minimise disruption to those currently booked to travel, the revised schedule will come into effect mid-February. We thank customers in advance for their understanding."

PM Jacinda Ardern speaks to press as WHO declare coronavirus a global emergency. Video / Phill Prendeville / Supplied

Air New Zealand will directly contact customers affected by these changes in the coming week. Customers booked via a travel agent (including online travel agents) will be contacted by their booking agent.

About 30 airlines have halted or cut back services to China.

Airlines including British Airways, Lufthansa and Lion Air this week stopped services and others pulled back earlier this week due to a decline in demand. Others such as United and American Airlines have pulled back from some routes. American Airlines is under pressure from a pilots' group which wants it to cut all services.

There are more than 30 services a week linking Auckland and Christchurch to the Chinese mainland by carriers China Southern, China Eastern, Air China and Hainan Airlines. Between them, they have an estimated 85 per cent of passengers.


The Air NZ move comes as the World Health Organisation declares a global health emergency although it is not recommending any restrictions on travel or trade at this time.