Air New Zealand is putting on more charter flights to Japan over summer that will more than double the number of Japanese visitors to New Zealand compared to last year's programme.

It will run 29 charter services to eight Japanese cities between December and March bringing in around 6000 Japanese visitors, up from 2800 last summer.

Twenty-two of the flights will operate direct into Christchurch with the remainder flying into Auckland.

Air New Zealand's deputy chief executive and acting chief sales officer, Norm Thompson, said it was encouraging to to see strong year on year growth from Japan.


Boeing 767-300 extended range aircraft will be used for the flights, the first of which will depart December 15 with the final flight returning to Japan on March 30.

Japan is New Zealand's fifth-largest tourism market with 74,224 arrivals in the year to July.

Tourism New Zealand says that after a challenging 2011, the market showed good signs of recovery in the latter part of 2012 and on into this year.

This was helped by a general recovery in outbound travel from Japan, increased promotions and capacity from airlines, renewed demand among Japan's traditional senior travellers and an increased focus on attracting Japan's younger travellers to New Zealand

Japanese spend more than most other visitors, spending $3,700 each compared to the average of about $2300.

Air New Zealand last month appointed Scott Carr as its general manager in Japan.

Carr has more than 20 years experience at Air New Zealand having joined subsidiary Mount Cook Airline in 1989. Since then he has held a number of senior leadership roles at Air New Zealand including general manager UK/Europe and most recently general manager New Zealand.

The airline said earlier this year it would revamp its regular scheduled services to Japan, concentrating on Tokyo and shifting away from Osaka. In May it said a structurally weaker yen had hit profitability on the Japan routes. The weaker yen had resulted in lower New Zealand dollar receipts.