Kia Ora: United’s new Christchurch flights from San Francisco will ‘supercharge tourism’

by James Wilkinson

United Airlines is set to launch a new Northern Winter service between San Francisco and Christchurch, New Zealand, from December 1 with Boeing 787-8 aircraft and the move has been warmly welcomed by the city’s airport chief.

Christchurch Airport Chief Executive, Justin Watson, said the new service will get South Islanders to the United States on one flight and also responds to Americans’ interest in the South Island.

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

“This new service will supercharge tourism value to New Zealand and statistics show American visitors who enter the country through Christchurch Airport spend 42% more in New Zealand and stay 33% longer.

“Based on government data, the seasonal service is forecast to bring in NZ$44 million in visitor spend for New Zealand, with NZ$32 million of that in South Island regions.

“This is the ideal combination of national value impact and regional economic impact.”

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.”