Air New Zealand and Air China have extended their strategic alliance partnership on services between the two countries for a further five years. The announcement was made by Air New Zealand chief executive officer Greg Foran at the China Business Summit in Auckland.

    Foran welcomed the extension, saying it will help New Zealand and China rebuild together. “China is an incredibly important market for Aotearoa and for Air New Zealand. The renewal of our strategic cooperation will be a vital boost for our tourism industry as it recovers from the severe impact of Covid-19.

    “Our alliance with Air China has delivered, and will continue to deliver, real benefit to New Zealand – including greater choice, extra seats and more inbound flights. It’s a great example of how we can build sustainable air connectivity to and from New Zealand.”

    Foran told the summit that although Covid has affected passenger travel, the trade and business cooperation between China and New Zealand has remained relatively stable.

    “Our Shanghai route has the highest proportion of cargo on any network we fly. Last year, we carried 2,600 tonnes of exports to Shanghai – up 23 percent on the year before. We’re proud to bring PPE into New Zealand and take the best of Aotearoa’s premium fresh produce, including seafood, red meat, dairy, fresh fruit and vegetables, to Shanghai.”

    China is a valuable market

    Pre-pandemic, China was New Zealand’s second-largest international visitor market (450,000 inbound travellers in 2019) and one of the most valuable in terms of holiday visitor spend at $1.5 billion.

    The alliance agreement was first put in place in 2015 and will be extended to March 2026, having been approved by regulators in New Zealand and China.

    Through the strategic alliance, services can be easily booked through either airline. Air New Zealand and Air China customers enjoy reciprocal frequent flyer benefits, such as earning and spending loyalty points and lounge access. Air New Zealand customers also receive better access to Air China’s comprehensive domestic network. For Air China customers the alliance enhances their customers’ access to New Zealand’s regions.

    In February, Air New Zealand announced plans to trial the digital Travel Pass app developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in order for its passengers to be able to move safely across the globe again.