August 31 2014, updated 3:02pm

Air NZ brings back daily Japan flights

JOSH MARTIN
Last updated 17:56 06/03/2014

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Air New Zealand will reinstate its daily direct service to Japan from November after what the carrier said was an overwhelming response to its latest marketing campaign.

General manager Japan Scott Carr said the airline would add 30 per cent more seats on the route after bookings soared following an Air New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand campaign.

The airline's soon-to-be delivered Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is expected to fly the route.

Carr said the extra capacity to the Japan route would be added until March 2015 and would result in the airline operating a year-round daily direct service between Japan and New Zealand for the first time since 2007.

There will be 10 weekly services to Japan. Daily direct services will operate between Tokyo and Auckland, with three services per week operating via Christchurch.

Japan has been in decline as an inbound tourist market, but Carr said the latest campaign in the Japanese market stimulated demand.

"A focus of the Tourism Industry Association's Tourism 2025 framework is to address the impact of seasonality on the tourism industry and Air New Zealand is focused on growing year-round traffic, with an ambitious target to double visitor numbers from Japan by 2019," Carr said.

"We are on track to exceed our expectations for this financial year on the back of current campaign activity, which will deliver strong visitor arrival numbers to New Zealand in both May and June, this is hugely encouraging."

Air New Zealand has also run charter flights between Japan and New Zealand over the peak summer season, but pulled its Auckland-Osaka route in 2013, due to falling demand.

Instead, the airline said it was focusing on Tokyo and offering domestic connections through its Japanese codeshare partner, ANA.

Japan is New Zealand's fifth-largest tourism market with nearly 75,000 visitors in the year to January.

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- Fairfax Media

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