China link could boost South Island tourism

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 05:00 04/02/2014

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A special China Southern Airlines charter flight into Christchurch landed yesterday, with Chinese representatives talking up the possibility of a permanent China-South Island service.

New Zealand tourism industry and Christchurch Airport bosses also forecast the first commercial Dreamliner flight into the quake-hit city could lead to more charters or a regular schedule of direct flights from Guangzhou.

The People's Republic of China consul-general to Christchurch, Tan Xiutian, and China Southern New Zealand general manager Mike Ma intimated the importance of the Boeing 787 charter flight and that there were "hopes" for fixed services.

But no promises have been made, and Christchurch Airport is not putting a time frame on when it might get a firm commitment.

Madam Tan joined nearly 230 Chinese visitors on the direct flight from Guangzhou, with many travelling to celebrate Chinese New Year in the South Island. Many people had waited for this charter plane for too long, she said.

"We hope this is the start of more charter services or even regular services to Christchurch," Ma said.

New Zealand consul-general to Guangzhou, Rebecca Needham, said the charter was "an exciting first step . . . towards more regular direct links between Christchurch and one of New Zealand's most important international partners, China".

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- Fairfax Media

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