Air New Zealand has announced that its new non-stop service between Auckland and Vancouver will operate year-round, following strong demand from customers. The airline said in February that it would begin seasonal November-March flights to Vancouver this year.
Group General Manager International Airline Ed Sims said today that forward bookings for flights between Auckland and Vancouver were very strong, and had given the airline the confidence to now launch a year-round service.
Canada has always been an extremely popular destination for New Zealanders, and in turn, Canadians come here in significant numbers every year, Mr Sims said.
Weve already had numerous enquiries from customers from both destinations wanting to travel outside the seasonal schedule, which has convinced us that the demand is there to sustain a year-round service.
Mr Sims said the new Vancouver service was already matching early growth rates similar to routes like San Francisco and Shanghai, as travellers outside the US took advantage of a time-saving direct route.
Already each year around 46,000 Canadians visit New Zealand and 16,000 Kiwis visit Canada even before the launch of direct flights.
Mr Sims said the airline would offer three flights a week during the peak travel periods between November-March and July-August, and was likely to offer twice-weekly services for the remainder of the year.
The extension of the service would allow customers from both markets to enjoy quite different tourist experiences throughout the year, he said.
Mr Sims said Air New Zealands relationship with Star Alliance partner Air Canada would offer customers great choices in connecting to other destinations within Canada, and through to London from Vancouver International Airport.*
Flights between Auckland and Vancouver will be operated with Air New Zealands new 777 aircraft, with the direct service shaving hours of transit time from customers travel itineraries.
Air New Zealand has publicly committed to opening one new long-haul route each year, with Vancouver the latest addition to the network.
The airline last year launched its service between Auckland and Shanghai, which has proven so successful that the number of flights is set to increase from three to five from 31 October. It will also introduce double daily services between Auckland and Hong Kong on Fridays and Sundays from 30 November 2007 to 2 March 2008.