A signing ceremony took place in Auckland yesterday, on the second day of a four day incentivised 'mega' familiarisation tour for 250 of China Southern's top agents, corporate partners and premium customers, hosted by China Southern Airlines' top executive team including President and Chief Executive Officer of China Southern Airlines, Mr Tan, Wan Geng.
Australasia is not only an important regional marketplace for China Southern Airlines to boost its internationalisation process, but also the most direct and powerful supporting point to enhance its international brand. In April last year, the Guangzhou-Auckland route was officially launched with the concerted efforts of China Southern and Auckland Airport.
Over the past year and a half, this route has witnessed a flight frequency increase from three times weekly to daily, and also an ever-upgraded in-flight service, making China Southern the largest carrier in the China-Australasia market.
"China Southern will pledge full use of these new opportunities, brought about by the signing of this MOU yesterday, to strengthen the cooperation, communication and friendship with New Zealand," says Mr Tan.
"China Southern is moving full speed ahead with the development of the Guangzhou hub to better serve as the connection between China and New Zealand to provide safe, reliable and on-time services to travellers throughout New Zealand and around the globe."
The MOU marks the next phase in fostering a closer working relationship between New Zealand and China, one of the world's fastest growing economies and inbound travel markets, says Auckland Airport's Chief Executive Adrian Littlewood.
"Broadly speaking, the agreement between China Southern Airlines, Tourism New Zealand and Auckland Airport sets out each party's intention of working together to strengthen the commitment between New Zealand and the airline to aid future growth between the two countries. We realise the significant opportunity for New Zealand tourism in assisting China Southern to expand its service with Auckland, and we are thrilled the airline has reciprocated by pledging its commitment to New Zealand in the form of the MOU agreement," he says.
"The MOU agreement, together with the visit to New Zealand by the 250 elite China Southern travel partners, is very much in line with our Ambition 2020 goals to develop more New Zealand experiences and higher quality offerings for Chinese visitors."
Other aspects of the MOU include jointly working to develop awareness in the Auckland and China markets, and helping create demand for China Southern Airlines' Canton route; studying route performance and developing future plans; sharing ideas and knowledge to assist product development and growth opportunities; and sharing meaningful information and research for mutual benefit.
"China represents a huge growth opportunity for New Zealand, and it is pleasing to see China Southern Airlines investing in promoting this market in China so strongly through its hosted travel agent visit this week," says Kevin Bowler, Tourism New Zealand's Chief Executive.
"The positive impact of this visit cannot be underestimated. To that end, Tourism New Zealand is only too happy to throw our support behind China Southern Airlines, and Auckland Airport, to grow our ties with China, in the form of an MOU agreement."
The MOU was signed by Mr Tan of China Southern Airlines, Auckland Airport's Chief Executive Adrian Littlewood and Tourism New Zealand Chair Kerry Prendergast. Attending the ceremony were more than 60 senior representatives from New Zealand travel, trade and tourism organisations, China Southern Airlines and Auckland Airport.
China Southern Airlines' delegation visit to New Zealand included a gala dinner last night in Auckland which was attended by New Zealand tourism industry and business leaders. This is followed by three days of leisure activities for the 250 visiting travel agents before they depart on Friday 14 December. The delegation will enjoy a range of activities in the Bay of Islands, Auckland and Waikato, including visiting the Hobbiton movie sets.