Air New Zealand is expanding its schedule to mainland China amid “very strong demand” following the country’s reopening to international travel.
After adding a third weekly flight in early January, service between Auckland and Shanghai Pudong will rise to 4X-weekly from Feb. 4 using Boeing 787-9 aircraft. The move will increase capacity on the route from around 1,800 two-way weekly seats to more than 2,400.
Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty said: “We’re seeing very strong demand across January for our flights into China. Most flights are full or close to full.”
China dropped quarantine requirements for inbound passengers from Jan. 8 following three years of tight COVID-19 restrictions. Beijing also resumed issuing visas to foreign nationals and passports to its own citizens, as well as ending restrictions on international flights.
Air New Zealand operated daily nonstop flights between Auckland and Shanghai before the pandemic. However, after initially halting the route in February 2020, a limited passenger service has been in place since June 2020.
Around 390,000 Chinese citizens visited New Zealand in 2019, according to Tourism New Zealand, and China was New Zealand’s second largest inbound market before the pandemic, comprising 11% of total arrivals.
In addition, Chinese visitors spent NZ$1.7 billion ($1.1 billion) in 2019, about $333 million of which was spent in the regions.
“With the addition of these new flights, we hope to make it even easier for New Zealanders to experience all that Shanghai has to offer and tap into the pent-up demand of Chinese tourists into New Zealand,” Geraghty said.