10 Apr 2011

New NZ - China direct flights hailed

6:43 am on 10 April 2011

Prime Minister John Key says there will be a $75 million boost to the New Zealand economy with the start of direct flights between Auckland and Guangzhou in China.

China Southern Airlines, the world's third largest airline, will fly between the two cities three times per week, bringing an extra 25,000 visitors to New Zealand each year.

The inaugural flight of the A330 aircraft arrived in Auckland on Saturday.

Mr Key told a delegation of airline and tourism officials that the new flights, combined with the China - New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, will bring many benefits.

He says they will grow tourism numbers, help the flow of exports, and raise the profile of companies from both China and New Zealand.

Mr Key said China is one of New Zealand's fastest growing tourism markets, with a 17% increase in tourists from there last year.