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Auckland Airport welcomes China Southern; new Guangzhou service supports fast-growing Chinese market

Chinese SkyTeam airline China Southern began serving New Zealand’s largest airport Auckland with three weekly flights from Guangzhou

Last Friday, the Chinese SkyTeam airline China Southern began serving New Zealand’s largest airport Auckland with three weekly flights from Guangzhou. The fast-growing group of Chinese visitors to the country is so important that the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key himself (right) attended the welcoming ceremony, receiving a gift from China Southern Airlines’ chairman Si Xianmin (left).

Auckland Airport this week welcomed a new non-stop thrice-weekly service from Guangzhou in China operated by China Southern Airlines, thus further emphasising its role as the international gateway to New Zealand. Passenger numbers from Mainland China increased by almost 20% in 2010, helped by Air New Zealand’s non-stop flights to both Beijing (which started in July 2008) and Shanghai.

Last year, the airport set a new passenger record handling almost 14 million passengers, up 4.6% on 2009, and an increase of 55% since 2002. Domestic traffic accounts for just 45% of all passengers and in September and October of last year, Pacific Blue withdrew its domestic flights to Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown and Wellington, which the airline had started in November 2007. These new routes had resulted in domestic traffic at Auckland growing by almost 11% in 2008. Fortunately, Qantas’ low-cost subsidiary Jetstar began domestic routes from Auckland in 2009.

Source: Auckland Airport

Source: Auckland Airport

No European or US carriers serve Auckland at present

Based on country of last residence, the leading generators of international traffic are visitors from Australia, the United Kingdom, the USA and China, with China showing the fastest growth. Despite the number of American and British visitors, no airline from either of these countries operates to Auckland. However, the US is served non-stop from Auckland by Air New Zealand (to Honolulu, Los Angeles and San Francisco) and Qantas (to Los Angeles). Air New Zealand also serves just one airport in Europe, London Heathrow, via both Los Angeles and Hong Kong.

Asian carriers are well represented at the airport with Cathay Pacific, China Airlines (which started flights to Taipei via Brisbane back in January), Korean Air, Malaysian Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways all serving their home hubs. Two South American carriers are also present with Lan Airlines serving Santiago in Chile, and Aerolineas Argentinas serving Buenos Aires. Both of these carriers use Auckland as an intermediate stop for their services to Sydney.

However, the foreign carrier with the biggest presence in Auckland (excluding Qantas and its low-cost subsidiary Jetstar) is Emirates. The Dubai-based carrier operates three daily flights to Dubai, but each has an intermediate stop in Australia; one in Brisbane, one in Melbourne and one in Sydney.

Jetstar replaces Qantas on several routes

During the last two years, the following new routes have been added at Auckland. The most significant development has been Qantas’ decision to use its low-cost subsidiary Jetstar to take over its three domestic routes to Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington in June 2009, which may well have contributed to Pacific Blue’s decision to withdraw from those markets just over a year later.

Launch date Airline Destination Current WF
15 February 2009 Air New Zealand Masterton (MRO) 6
28 April 2009 Jetstar Gold Coast (OOL) 7
28 April 2009 Jetstar Sydney (SYD) 7
10 June 2009 Jetstar Christchurch (CHC) 46 (replaced Qantas)
10 June 2009 Jetstar Queenstown (ZQN) 9 (replaced Qantas)
10 June 2009 Jetstar Wellington (WLG) 35 (replaced Qantas)
19 September 2009 Pacific Blue Queenstown (ZQN) No longer served
23 March 2010 Pacific Blue Cairns (CNS) 1
2 July 2010 Air Pacific Suva (SUV) 2
13 December 2010 Jetstar Melbourne (MEL) 7
1 January 2011 China Airlines Taipei (TPE) via Brisbane 3
17 March 2011 Jetstar Asia Singapore (SIN) 7
8 April 2011 China Southern Guangzhou (CAN) 3
12 April 2011 Jetstar Cairns (CNS) 3
Source: anna.aero new route database and OAG Max Online for w/c 4 April 2011

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