Air New Zealand says it is suspending direct flights to Beijing as it focuses on Shanghai.

The NZX-listed airline said that after a review of services into China it had determined expansion would best be achieved by consolidating services into Shanghai and serving Beijing as a one-stop destination in conjunction with Star Alliance code-share partner Air China.

Air New Zealand would suspend its twice-weekly direct Auckland to Beijing service from June 30 as it concentrated on growing the Shanghai service, the company said.

Air New Zealand, which started flying to Shanghai in 2006, said it would add a fifth weekly service to Shanghai from July 4 and planned to operate daily services to China within the next year.


Group general manager for international Christopher Luxon said the airline was confident of the potential for long-term growth from one of China's most modern and populous cities.

"Air New Zealand has been operating to mainland China for more than five years and is highly committed to the potential of the market long term," Luxon said.

Experienced airline executive Sandeep Bahl had been appointed as the first head of Asia operations, he said.

"Under his guidance we will focus our marketing and sales resources on the Shanghai region of around 14 million people as we seek to provide customers a daily service to and from this important gateway in China."

Air New Zealand still considered Beijing to be an important and growing market and the Air China code share arrangement provided convenient connections between Shanghai and Beijing in both directions, Luxon said.

Chief executive Rob Fyfe last month said a review of the international network was nearing completion and announcements would be made as the airline focused on strengthening its Pacific Rim network.

Shares in Air New Zealand closed down 0.5c yesterday at 85c.