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Auckland’s air service development team (from left): Matthew Findlay, route development manager; Jane Carruthers, trade and tourism development manager, Glenn Wedlock, general manager of aeronautical business development and Helen Li, aviation analyst.

Auckland – up from fi ve times a week – and adding an extra 60,000 seats to up its capacity by 40%. Australia’s Jetstar started Melbourne to Auckland services in December 2010, and will follow with a Cairns service in April 2011. From March, Jetstar will launch a daily service between Auckland and Singapore. Malaysia Airlines, which last year celebrated 20 years of service to Auckland, will increase the frequency of its Kuala Lumpur–Auckland route to six services per week, adding around 30,000 seats.

Capitalising on Asia

These regional announcements are the fruits of the airport operator’s multi- million dollar strategy to develop the Asian tourism market. Moutter views this sector as “New Zealand’s best chance to surf the economic boom from emerging economies.” According to IATA fi gures, Asia is already the biggest tourism market in the world, and is predicted to grow the fastest over the next 20 years. New Zealand’s hosting of the upcoming Rugby World Cup will be a major drawcard, bringing with it an expected NZ$507 million economic windfall. Auckland Airport has invested

signifi cantly in air service development work over the past 18 months, but Glenn

Wedlock, the airport’s general manager of aeronautical business development, says there’s no room for complacency.

“There have been many positive developments, but we still face challenges ahead. While we defi nitely need more capacity in some key markets, it’s not just about getting more planes here – policy and process factors such as visas, security requirements and air services agreements are also very important. Every part of the collective tourism team has a part to play.” Yet he remains confi dent that with wider recognition of the importance and economic impact of air services capacity, the partnerships emerging between government and industry will provide a strong foundation for meeting tourism targets.

Strong US demand

Of course, the Auckland–Houston route will also benefi t the airline. Alison Espley, United Airlines’ director for Australia and New Zealand, says direct access to such a key American hub will offer travellers seamless connections to many cities within the US, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, as well as Europe. “We foresee strong inbound demand from US companies in the Houston area,

combined with demand from Australia and New Zealand outbound travellers who have business interests in the southern US, notably in the energy sector. Tourism is also expected to be a key driver as the direct service will connect travellers through to Latin America and Europe,” she says. Despite delays in delivery of the Dreamliner, Espley says that Continental remains committed to the Auckland– Houston route, “which we are confi dent will be a success”. “We are excited about the long-term opportunities in the region. As our president and CEO, Jeff Smisek, explained during his recent visit here, commencement of the Auckland–Houston route depends on delivery of the Boeing 787, because it offers the right capacity to match demand in the market.”

In anticipation of Boeing advising of further delays in delivery of the aircraft, Espley says Continental now plans to begin the service in 2012, rather than November this year as originally announced.

“While we are disappointed about the further delay in delivery, we are very excited about the B787, which will be a game-changer and offer unprecedented customer and operator benefi ts,” she concludes.



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