China Airlines boosts Chch flights

03:23, Aug 12 2014

Christchurch Airport says it expects solid demand from Taiwanese tourists wanting to visit the South Island as part of a new summer service by China Airlines.

The service was announced today by the airport, which is looking to boost the number of Asian tourists visiting the region.

Chief executive Malcolm Johns said the Taipei-Sydney-Christchurch service would operate three return flights a week for an initial summer season from December 2 to March 1.

"The South Island was a very popular destination for the Taiwanese in the 1990s," he said.

"The new summer service will connect with the valuable Taiwan market, whose travellers are keen to experience the many attractions of the South Island."

The service will offer an extra 24,000 seats between Christchurch, Sydney and Taipei over December, January and February.

The new schedule underlined the importance of Sydney as an international airport hub for the South Island, Johns said.

Canterbury Development Corporation chief executive Tom Hooper welcomed the new service and the additional air freight capacity it would bring to Canterbury.

"Getting Christchurch more connected globally is a principal driver of economic growth, and this new service is an excellent addition to our international network which will help the overall economy in a number of areas," he said.

"The service will also offer more freight capacity to Sydney and on to Asia, so another opportunity for fresh and time-sensitive goods."

The new service offers a total time of 14 hours and 15 minutes, including transit time in Sydney, which is up to four hours shorter than existing flight patterns.

With two flight legs, it was one stop less than any other option available, Johns said.

Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter said the service met a definite need.

"We know there is demand from Taiwan for travellers to visit the South Island," he said.

"We have seen 8 per cent growth in holiday arrivals from Taiwan to New Zealand in the past year and we are confident this new connection to the South Island will stimulate new holiday demand.

"The service will also appeal to travellers from other North Asian countries."

Johns said the new summer service would have to be popular for Christchurch to retain it.

"As with all new services, it comes with a 'use it or lose it' caveat, so we encourage the people of the South Island to take advantage of it this summer," he said.

"These flights will be the last heading to Sydney from Christchurch each evening so are sure to work well for South Islanders heading overseas."