Air NZ cuts Beijing services to concentrate on Shanghai
March 28 (BusinessDesk) - Air New Zealand plans to cut its twice-weekly direct flights between Auckland and Beijing in order to concentrate on services to Shanghai which it will add a fifth weekly service in moves it calls an “expansion” of services to China.
“Following a review of current services into China, Air New Zealand has determined that this expansion will best be achieved by consolidating services into Shanghai and serving Beijing as a one-stop destination in conjunction with Star Alliance code-share partner Air China,” the airline said.
It will add a fifth weekly service to Shanghai from July 4 but will suspend its twice-weekly direct Auckland to Beijing service from June 30.
Travel between New Zealand and China has ramped up in recent years, with the number of short-term Chinese visitors climbing by about 49,000 to an annual 152,000 in the year ended Feb. 29 from 2010, while the number of kiwis rose almost 12,000 to 69,000 over the same period.
Air NZ is aiming for a $110 million profit improvement from its long-haul services by 2015, which are now an underperforming part of the company. The airline’s first-half profit sank 61 percent to $38 million on higher fuel costs and fewer international passengers.
International airline group general manager Christopher Luxon said the airline still considers Beijing “an important and growing market” and its Air China code-share arrangement provides convenient connections between Shanghai and Beijing in both directions.
“Air New Zealand has been operating to mainland China for more than five years and is highly committed to the potential of the market long term,” Luxon said.
The airline has just created a new position of head of Asian operations and appointed Sandeep Bahl, “a highly experienced airline executive in the region,” to the position in its Shanghai office from the beginning of March.
“Under his guidance, we will focus our marketing and sales resources on the Shanghai region of around 14 million people as we seek to provide customers a daily service to and from this important gateway in China.”
The shares fell 0.6 percent to 85 cents in trading today.