Airline to fly direct Auckland-Guangzhou

More visitors are expected from China after a decision by China Southern Airlines to fly direct to Auckland from Guangzhou, rather than via Melbourne as planned earlier.

Airline president Tan Wan'geng today said widespread support from the tourism industry in this country when he visited in December was pivotal to his company's decision to move immediately to direct services.

"The strong potential of the partnership between China and New Zealand was reinforced by everyone we met. This gave us the confidence that the New Zealand market opportunity will be a great success and can lead to even greater opportunities for China Southern Airlines and our partners in the region," Mr Tan said.

"Although we always envisaged moving eventually to direct flights if the service via Melbourne proved successful, we have now decided to make this commitment from day one."

Auckland Airport chief executive Simon Moutter said that having one of the largest airlines in the world flying direct to this country would drive more visitors here and give them more time to see what the country had to offer.

"In line with our strategic focus, Auckland Airport is totally committed to growing the number of direct air links with China as quickly as possible to help ensure New Zealand gets its fair share of the fastest growing tourism market in the world," Mr Moutter said.

The three times a week service is due to start from April 8.

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