New Zealand celebrates Rugby World Cup success; tourism boosted by seven week event

In April this year, both China Southern and AirAsia X launched new Asian routes to New Zealand. China Southern’s chairman Si Xianmin was welcomed after arriving from Guangzhou to Auckland in the North Island by NZ Prime Minister John Key. Matthew Findlay, GM aeronautical development at Christchurch Airport in New Zealand’s South Island, celebrated the Kuala Lumpur service together with Senthil Balan, Air Asia X’s head of route planning and regulatory affairs at World Routes in Berlin earlier this month.

Sunday’s 8-7 victory by New Zealand’s All Blacks over France in the Rugby World Cup final played in Auckland has given a boost to the nation and Air New Zealand instantly chose to ride off the waves of the country’s exposure by launching a promo fare campaign.

Since last looked at the New Zealand air travel market, the country’s three major airports (Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington) have seen their combined annual traffic grow from 21.5 million in 2006 to almost 25 million in 2010.

New Zealand's big three airports Annual Traffic 2002-10 (millions)

Source: Individual airports

Since 2002, Christchurch and Wellington have seen passenger numbers grow by just under 40%, but Auckland has seen demand grow by 55% thanks to its growing focus as the main international gateway to the country.

Australia dominates international visitor arrivals

Figures from Statistics New Zealand show that annual visitor arrivals in the last four years have grown by a modest 4.2%, with much of that growth having come in 2010 after 2008 and 2009 showed virtually no change over 2007.

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 10 v 06
Australia 903,504 950,206 976,200 1,082,680 1,119,879 23.9%
United Kingdom 294,812 292,717 285,094 258,438 234,314 -20.5%
USA 225,629 216,027 212,410 197,792 189,709 -15.9%
China 105,716 120,804 112,398 102,259 122,712 16.1%
Japan 136,401 121,652 102,482 78,426 87,735 -35.7%
Korea 111,361 99,453 79,061 52,921 67,309 -39.6%
Germany 59,353 59,765 62,300 64,564 64,648 8.9%
Canada 45,955 47,792 53,267 48,656 48,942 6.5%
Singapore 28,168 26,836 28,836 29,582 30,300 7.6%
India 20,265 21,853 23,860 25,336 29,486 45.5%
France 18,663 18,673 21,125 23,227 24,579 31.7%
Hong Kong 23,570 22,687 21,776 23,572 24,287 3.0%
Source: Statistics New Zealand (New Zealand International Visitor Arrivals – December 2010)

Between 2006 and 2010, arrivals from India increased by 45%, from France by 32%, from Australia by 24% and from China by 16%. Conversely, during the same period arrivals from Korea were down 40%, from Japan down 36%, from the UK down 21% and from the US down 15%. During the last 12 months, notable new international services to New Zealand have included:

  • Auckland: China Airlines from Taipei via Brisbane (January 2011), China Southern Airlines from Guangzhou (April 2011), Jetstar from Cairns (April 2011), Jetstar from Melbourne (December 2010), Jetstar Asia from Singapore (March 2011)
  • Christchurch: AirAsia X from Kuala Lumpur (April 2011)

Rugby World Cup boosts September visitors by 26%

The Rugby World Cup has seen a clear surge in visitor numbers, especially from the UK as teams from England, Scotland and Wales (as well as Ireland) were all competing. According to government statistics for the week ending 11 September, visitor arrivals from the UK were up 250% (from around 2,000 to almost 7,000), while in the following four weeks, UK visitor numbers were up between 60% and 90% compared with the same period in 2010.

A government press release on 21 October estimated that visitor arrivals in September were 26% up on the same month in 2010. The main countries of residence for Rugby World Cup arrivals during the July-September period were; Australia (28,700), the UK (12,800), France (8,300), the US (3,700), South Africa (3,600) and Ireland (3,400). Interestingly, only 62% of the arrivals from Australia were Australian, with most of the rest being either New Zealand citizens (5,500), British citizens (2,000) or Irish citizens (1,700).

Virgin’s Pacific Blue been and gone in domestic market

The three leading airports also dominate domestic air travel in New Zealand with a combined capacity share of over 70% of the NZ market. Five further airports have capacity shares of between two and four per cent.

Share of New Zealand domestic market

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 03 October 2011

Back in November 2007, Pacific Blue, an airline owned by Virgin Blue (now Virgin Australia), began domestic services in New Zealand between the three major airports. Just under three years later, in mid-October 2010, the airline withdrew from the market, leaving Air New Zealand with Jetstar as its only real competitor in the domestic market. Air New Zealand has an 83% share of the market with Jetstar’s six routes (Auckland to Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown, and Wellington; and Christchurch to Queenstown and Wellington) accounting for most of the remaining 17%.

“New” Kapiti Coast airport becomes 28th in country

This week sees the resumption of commercial flights at Kapiti Coast Airport (formerly known as Paraparaumu Airport) with Air Nelson operating 18 weekly departures on behalf of Air New Zealand to Auckland, using Q300s. Until the opening of Wellington International Airport in the late 1950s, the facility served as the main airport for the country capital, but has recently been upgraded and enhanced to be able once more to handle scheduled services.


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