Air New Zealand and Continental Airlines have today started a reciprocal code share agreement, providing Air NZ access to parts of the United States not previously available with current partners.

Under code sharing agreements airlines can sell tickets on flights operated by other airlines.

Air NZ will code share on more than 540 flights per week to and from Continental Airlines' main hubs serving Houston, New York and Cleveland.

The code share will complement existing arrangements with fellow Star Alliance partners United Airlines and US Airways.

Continental Airlines will code share on Air NZ's transpacific services, transtasman, domestic and Auckland to Hong Kong service.

"This presents exciting inbound tourism opportunities for New Zealand, especially when you consider Continental is the world's fifth largest airline," said Air New Zealand group general manager Ed Sims.

"The new code share also provides excellent options for Kiwis wanting to travel to the East Coast of the US, with very convenient connection times to a range of Continental Airlines flights."