Air New Zealand and Air China will launch a new route between Beijing and Auckland this year, as part of their strategic alliance. The two airlines signalled their intentions to enter into an alliance when China’s President Xi Jinping visited New Zealand late a year ago.
Air China Chief Executive Officer Song Zhiyong says the relationship between China and New Zealand is going from strength to strength, with increased economic, cultural and political exchanges in recent years. Air NZ said the alliance would boost access to domestic Chinese cities via Air China’s local network. Both Air New Zealand and Air China are members of Star Alliance, meaning customers will continue to enjoy reciprocal frequent flyer benefits including loyalty earning and redemption and lounge access.
Bridges signed off the alliance after it received Cabinet approval on Monday. Under the alliance Air New Zealand would continue to operate its new Boeing 787-9 aircraft on the Auckland, Shanghai route.
Air NZ will place its NZ code on the new daily Air China flights, which are due to commence on December 10 operated by Airbus A330-200s. “So far, passengers flying from Poland have not been able to travel to New Zealand without at least two stops which has made the journey quite uncomfortable for some of them”.
Air New Zealand and Air China first announced plans to form an alliance in November 2014, and the partnership has now been authorised until March 2021. “Tourists from China recently pushed New Zealand’s annual visitor numbers over the 3 million mark”.
Air New Zealand pulled its direct twice-weekly Auckland to Beijing service in June 2012 after heavy losses, and instead focused on its Auckland to Shanghai route.
Air China is one of China’s Big Three airlines and is based in Beijing.