Christchurch Airport Chief says new United flights will ‘supercharge tourism’

by James Wilkinson

United Airlines’ new San Francisco to Christchurch flights are a game changer for New Zealand’s South Island, according to Christchurch Airport Chief Executive, Justin Watson, who welcomed the inaugural flight last Sunday (Dec 10).

With the launch, United has become the only airline to offer direct flights between the South Island and the United States and the first to offer a direct service from Christchurch to San Francisco.

“We’re so excited to welcome United’s direct service between Christchurch and San Francisco for the summer and know the service will ‘supercharge’ tourism in the region,” he said.

“The American travel market is buoyant, with Americans travelling widely again and we know they want to experience what the South Island offers.

“In addition, the service brings much needed air freight capacity for South Island producers and enables South Islanders direct access to the United States and beyond,” Watson said.

The new direct route will fly three times a week on board a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, headlined by United Airlines’ brilliant Polaris Business Class cabin with 28 seats alongside 21 Premium Plus, 36 Economy Plus and 158 Economy seats.

United’s Polaris Business Class cabin features 198cm-long flatbed seats, pyjamas (on flights over 12 hours), all-new Saks Fifth Avenue bedding and onboard amenities from Therabody – including a kit that features an eye serum, face spray, hand cream and cleansing towelette exclusive to United customers – alongside fantastic inflight food and drinks (including a new, brilliant wine menu), premium noise-reducing headphones and fantastic inflight hospitality.

The new Christchurch route is part of United’s massive expansion in the region, which, by the end of 2023, will see the carrier operating 66 flights between the U.S. and the South Pacific region each week.

Watson said the United Airlines service will connect Christchurch, America and Antarctica.

“We are the world’s southernmost gateway to Antarctica, with the United States Antarctic Programme based here,” he said.

“That brings more than 3,000 staff, researchers and supplies from the US every year to Christchurch, and on to Antarctica in our summer.

“The service will make the west coast of America one flight away for South Islanders and we have every expectation the service will be well used in both directions.”