Air China and Air New Zealand have signed an initial statement of intent to create a strategic alliance on services between China and New Zealand.
The proposed alliance between the two national flag carriers and Star Alliance partners would see Air China operate a new direct Beijing-Auckland service, in addition to Air New Zealand continuing its existing Shanghai-Auckland service. The alliance remains subject to regulatory approval from the Chinese and New Zealand governments.
In addition to a new route, an alliance between the carriers would benefit customers traveling in either direction by offering better network connections in both China and New Zealand, and increased frequency of flights, according to the two airlines.
Air China is committed to being a global hub carrier and alliances and partnerships are an important way to expand its international network, according to Song Zhiyong, Air China’s CEO.
“In the past three years we have witnessed double digit annual growth in the number of Chinese outbound tourists,” said Song.
“New Zealand is one of the most important markets for outbound travel from China and Air China is confident about the promising future of this market, particularly considering the airline’s close ties with Air New Zealand, an innovative airline full of vitality and dynamism,” Song added.
“China is New Zealand’s second largest inbound visitor market and we expect interest in visiting New Zealand to continue to grow amongst Chinese travelers,” remarked Christopher Luxon, Air New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer .
“However, China remains a challenging market for us to operate to,” Luxon added. “Working with a strong, well respected home market carrier like Air China would give us a huge opportunity to convert this potential growth, while jointly offering the additional capacity to support it.”
Luxon continued: “New Zealand businesses and travelers would also benefit from a direct link to China’s capital and tourist attractions of Beijing.”
Following the November 21 signing of their joint statement of intent, the airlines plan to continue alliance discussions, with a view to reaching an agreement early next year which can then be filed for regulatory approval.