Auckland is set to welcome Sichuan Airlines’ inaugural flight from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in southwest China later today, Transport Minister Simon Bridges says.
Sichuan Airlines will operate three direct flights per week between Auckland and Chengdu.
"New Zealand is in a strong position to attract airlines, with a liberal international air transport policy that allows most major airlines to operate services to New Zealand without restriction," Mr Bridges says.
"We have negotiated 60 new or amended air services agreements since 2012, and in that time period, the number of services Chinese airlines can offer each week under arrangements between our countries has risen from 7 to 59.
"New Zealand is an increasingly popular tourist destination for Chinese visitors. In the year ended March 2017, 404,384 Chinese visitors came here an increase of seven percent on the year before. Visitors from China spent NZ$1.45 billion, second only to the spending by visitors from Australia.
"This new Sichuan Airlines service is a reflection of the growing trade and tourism links between China and New Zealand, and it raises the number of airlines now operating from China to New Zealand from five to six.
"It’s great to see New Zealand further expanding its international connectivity, allowing people to get to and from Chinese provinces with greater ease. It is also a testament to the success of our International Air Transport Policy, which provides additional opportunities for these airlines," Mr Bridges says.