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Direct flights drive jump in Asian tourists in November

Direct flights drive jump in Asian tourists in November, Auckland Airport says

Dec. 23 (BusinessDesk) - Visitors from China led a jump in Asian arrivals through Auckland International Airport in November, confirming government figures that show New Zealand is becoming a more popular destination as airlines add capacity.

International passengers rose 6.3 percent in November from a year earlier to 707,047, the airport company said. Visitors from China jumped about 34 percent to 34,001, Indian visitors climbed about 29 percent to 4,930 and those from South Korea rose 19 percent to 5,057. Japanese visitors rose about 15 percent to 7,330.

Returning Kiwis, the biggest source of international arrivals at Auckland Airport, rose 5.5 percent to 148,584 and Australians rose 2.3 percent to 66,573. US arrivals rose 2.1 percent to 18,810 and those from the UK were unchanged at 15,029.

Government figures this week showed visitor numbers rose 9 percent to a record 3.09 million in the 12 months ended Nov. 30, with Chinese visitors jumping by 87,400 to 344,900. Among new services, Air China and Air New Zealand this month had the inaugural flight of their alliance service between Beijing and Auckland. China Eastern Airlines began a seasonal Shanghai-to-Auckland service in December last year.

China's share of tourism spending in New Zealand is forecast to rise to almost 24 percent in 2021 from 14 percent in 2014, according to a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment forecast.

Domestic passenger movements through Auckland Airport rose 9.1 percent to 665,066 last month. The company's 25 percent-owned Queenstown Airport Corp recorded a 46.5 percent gain in international passengers to 33,191, while domestic passenger numbers rose 15.4 percent to 99,398.

In October, the airport company told shareholders that it planned capital spending of between $230 million and $260 million in the 2016 financial year, up from previous guidance, as it upgrades and expands terminal and airfield capacity for passengers and airlines. It was expecting its busiest-ever summer season, chief executive Adrian Littlewood said.

Auckland Airport shares rose 0.3 percent to $5.325 and have gained about 26 percent this year.


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