This week I was delighted to see Transport Minister Simon Bridges announce that the number of flights between New Zealand and China is set to double following an amendment to the air services agreement arrangements between our two countries.
The amended arrangement will allow airlines from both New Zealand and China to offer 42 services per week per country. This is up from a limit of 21 per week at the moment.
This is a further reflection of the growing depth of the relationship between our two countries.
Government officials negotiated the doubling of capacity at an International Air Services Negotiations conference in Indonesia last week.
Chinese airlines will operate a total of 21 services per week in the upcoming New Zealand summer peak period, with China Southern operating twice a day from Guangzhou to Auckland, and planning to operate three charter services from Guangzhou to Christchurch for Chinese New Year. China Eastern will operate daily services to Auckland from Shanghai.
So far this year just over 250,000 Chinese visitors have arrived by air travel to in New Zealand; compared to the 108,000 visitor that arrived by air in 2009.
With increased air services, forecasts indicate that half a million Chinese people will visit New Zealand by air each year by 2020. A number of commentators say those figures are conservative.
This increase in Chinese visitors is also helping inject more money into New Zealand’s economy.
The Latest results shows Chinese visitors spent $979 million in the year ending September 2014, and increase of 33% from the previous year.
The doubling of flights between New Zealand and China shows that a National Government is taking steps to further expand tourism, trade, and personal ties between our two countries.