Air New Zealand is to again operate its popular charter programme from Japan to New Zealand this summer as it continues to stimulate passenger growth from this important tourism market.
Air New Zealand General Manager Japan Ed Overy says the seven charters are selling well, indicating a continued appetite from Japanese tourists for a taste of a New Zealand summer.
“For obvious reasons the Japanese market has been in decline since March this year. Together with Tourism New Zealand, we have been working hard to return the market to growth,” says Mr Overy.
“This summer’s charter flights are less than the dozen we ran last summer but more than we had the year before that, and reflect the renewed optimism we are seeing in the outbound market from Japan following the recent reintroduction of direct services into Christchurch last month and also the resumption of regular Boeing 777-200 services.”
Japanese tourists spend more per person than any other nationality and are New Zealand’s fifth-largest tourist market, contributing 74,399 international visitors for the year ending October 2011.
Mr Overy says that for the past few years Air New Zealand has been focusing on new tourists from key regions across Japan, with four charter flights to operate from Nagoya, two from Fukuoka and one from Kagoshima.
“Part of our market strategy has been to broaden our reach by offering direct air connections to New Zealand from regional airports within Japan, where we are observing some good demand.”
Nine Japanese travel partners are involved in selling the charter services – JTB, Club Tourism, Meitetsu World Travel, Nokyo Tourist Corp, Kinki Nippon Tourist, Hankyu Express, Nishitesu Travel, Nangoku Kotsu and Miyuazaki Kotsu.
Tourism New Zealand and Auckland International Airport Ltd are also key partners.
Tourism New Zealand General Manager Asia Markets, Mark Frood, says the increased capacity supports his cautiously optimistic outlook for continued arrival growth.
“The summer season charter programme shows that demand from regional Japan for destination New Zealand is recovering. There is a sense of growing optimism in the outbound tourism market and the increased capacity has been warmly welcomed by the Japanese tourism industry,” he says.
Alongside its newly launched newzealand.com and summer season campaigns, Tourism New Zealand is actively supporting the charter promotions with retail agent training, agent familiarisation visits and charter consumer seminars.
“We are very pleased to again be supporting Air New Zealand on this important charter programme,” says Auckland Airport General Manager Aeronautical Commercial, Glenn Wedlock.
“The Japanese market has long been important to the New Zealand tourism industry, and this programme provides a great opportunity to deliver a high value customer market over our peak season.”
Typical itineraries for visitors flying into Auckland on the charter services include onward travel to popular tourist destinations including Christchurch, Queenstown and Rotorua.
“Air New Zealand is highly regarded by Japanese travellers for its exceptional service and being the only airline to offer direct services between Japan and New Zealand. New Zealand remains a popular summer holiday destination thanks to its spectacular scenery and pristine environment,” says Mr Overy.
Air New Zealand’s regular schedule over this period includes three flights a week direct from Tokyo to Christchurch and then on to Auckland (Monday, Tuesday and Saturday) along with three services a week between Tokyo and Auckland, and four between Osaka and Auckland.