Chinese carrier Tianjin Airlines has touched down at Auckland Airport where passenger numbers have surged past 18 million passengers a year.
The airline is the 29th international carrier at the airport and will link Auckland to Chinese cities Tianjin and Chongqing.
Tianjin Airlines will operate year-round with three flights a week using an A330 aircraft.
The new service will add 83,000 seats to the China-Auckland route every year and the airport estimates that this will deliver a $102 million boost to the New Zealand tourism industry.
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Scott Tasker, Auckland Airport's acting general manager - aeronautical commercial, said the company was "excited" that the airline had chosen Auckland for its first Australasian service.
"Regional China is a rapidly developing market for New Zealand tourism and the new flights we're welcoming today will provide more choice for Chinese visitors to experience New Zealand, and for New Zealanders travelling to China."
Tianjin and Chongqing are Auckland Airport's 47th and 48th international destinations respectively. Tianjin is the largest coastal city in northern China, with a population of more than 15 million people. Chongqing is a major economic centre in the Yangtze basin and has population of more than 30 million people.
Auckland Airport's total domestic and international passenger movements have hit 18.1 million in the past 12 months, up nearly two million on the previous corresponding period. The airport 's infrastructure is under extreme pressure with many users being caught in vehicle gridlock in the past month.
Tasker said that it was undertaking the most significant upgrades seen for several decades.
"Tianjin Airlines is arriving in Auckland at an exciting time. A major upgrade of our international departure area is well underway, as is the expansion of Pier B of the international terminal, which will add two more gates that can each accommodate an
A380 or two smaller aircraft," he said.
"We are also progressing the concept design of the new domestic section of our combined domestic and international terminal."