Sichuan Airlines will begin three direct flights per week between Auckland and Chengdu in southwest China from June.

The airline will use an A330-200 aircraft, with business and economy class configuration and operate initially on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

It is the latest regional Chinese carrier to enter the New Zealand market following the arrival of Tainjin and Hainan airlines during summer.

The flight will only take 13 hours flying directly from New Zealand to the Southwest part of China.


Sichuan Airlines was founded in 1986 and currently has more than 215 routes, including long haul services to Australia, Canada and the United States.

It has a fleet of 120 Airbus aircraft, mainly A330s and A320s.

Chengdu is the provincial capital of Sichuan and also renowned for its fertile land and agricultural wealth.

The airline says it is the home town of the giant panda, City of Brocade, City of Leisure and Eden of the East are several of its widely spread names.

"There is a saying that 'once you come to Chengdu, you do not want to leave' which reveals the charm of this city."

JC Zhi, Sichuan Airlines' New Zealand general manager said the airline was delighted to announce the new service.

"We have great confidence in the New Zealand market and this news clearly demonstrates our ongoing commitment as we open further gateways and services to China."

The flights will depart Auckland at 8.30pm to reach Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport around 6am, with a 1.55am overnight return leg arriving into Auckland at 6.45pm.