New Zealand’s first commercial Dreamliner flight
New Zealand's first commercial 787 Dreamliner route took off when China Southern's latest Boeing plane touched down at Auckland International Airport.
The 228-seater, which is 56 metres long and has a wingspan of 60 metres, landed to a welcoming powhiri after its inaugural flight from Guangzhou, China.
China Southern's latest purchase will be the first 787 Dreamliner to regularly fly the New Zealand skies when it takes up the airlines daily flights from Auckland to the southern Chinese city, replacing the airline's current Airbus A330 servicing the route.
The new aircraft means capacity on the route grew by five per cent.
Auckland International Airport aeronautical commercial general manager Glenn Wedlock said the decision by China Southern to use the new Dreamliner 787 on the Auckland route, combined with the increase in weekly flights, herald further strong Chinese passenger arrival growth.
Chinese visitor arrivals had a 26.5 per cent increase in arrivals in the 2013 financial year.
China Southern has increased from three flights a week to ten, since launching the route from Auckland to China's third largest city, in 2011.
In 2012, the airline flew more than 122,000 passengers between China and New Zealand.
China Southern's chief operating officer Zifang Zhang said the increase in operations on the China-New Zealand route was unprecedented over the past two years and it is determined and committed to the region.
Airport chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden said the impact of that increase on the New Zealand tourism industry would be significant when the average Chinese tourist spends on average $3100 per trip, well above the average of $2300 per trip, of other international visitors.
He said the total tourist spend for the 2013 financial year 2013 was $645 million.
Van der Heyden told gathered dignitaries how impressed he was with the Dreamliner's cabin conveniences and fuel efficiency.
Boeing's Dreamliner offers airlines a significantly lighter aircraft by using carbon fibre and its GEnx-1B engine leads to a 20 per cent better fuel saving, a 20 per cent reduction in exhaust emissions and a 60 per cent reduction in noise.
For passengers on board, the carbon fibre allows higher humidity, through advanced air filtration and conditioning, to lessen the impacts of jet lag.
The 787 Dreamliner also boasts the largest overhead stowage space in the sky, while and first class passengers get lie flat beds and individual satellite phones.
JetStar received its first 787 Dreamliner earlier this month but it currently is not part of its New Zealand fleet.
Air New Zealand is set to take up its first 787-9 Dreamliner, a stretched, and more fuel efficient version of the base model which will fly further, by mid 2014.