09 April 2021
On the 10th anniversary of its first arrival in New Zealand, Auckland Airport has paid tribute to an airline that played a key role in developing the travel market between China and New Zealand and has remained a strong supporter during COVID-19 border closures.
On 9 April 2011, China Southern became the first airline from mainland China to operate into New Zealand, flying between their home city Guangzhou and Auckland.
Scott Tasker, General Manager Aeronautical Commercial, said the airline’s arrival in the Kiwi market had marked a new era for New Zealand’s air connections.
“China Southern has been a terrific airline partner for Auckland Airport – they led the way in opening up new routes from Auckland into China and onwards throughout Asia and Europe. Their growth in this market has been remarkable – in 2019, China Southern carried more than 260,000 passengers between Guangzhou and Auckland, five times more than their first year flying the route.
“They’ve always been innovative – they were the first airline to introduce a regular Boeing Dreamliner service into Auckland, and they even brought an Airbus A380 here on a one-off service in 2012.”
Mr Tasker said China Southern has been a strong partner in challenging times. In 2020, the airline operated 252 flights into New Zealand, transporting more than 50,000 passengers, and 6,000 tons of cargo.
“As the world faced the reality of COVID-19 border closures, China Southern’s commitment to maintaining the air bridge between China and New Zealand meant people could get home, medical equipment came to Auckland and valuable New Zealand exports could be carried abroad.”
Mr Tasker said the airline would continue play an important role in New Zealand’s tourism and aviation industries as the world recovers from COVID-19.
“As our travel and tourism industry rebuilds from the effects of the pandemic, connectivity between New Zealand and China will be crucial to recovery.”
China Southern was the recipient of Auckland Airport’s 2014 Airline of the Year Award, recognising their rapid growth, the introduction of their Dreamliner and their contribution to New Zealand’s tourism industry. Over the past decade, they have carried 1.7 million passengers and 63,000 tons of cargo between New Zealand and China.
The airline marks a decade of flying into Auckland with a charity event today at Ronald McDonald House.
China Southern’s Auckland General Manager Lily Wang said: “This route has become an important milestone for the expansion of political exchanges, trade exchanges, tourism and cultural exchanges between China and New Zealand.”