China's Sichuan Airlines is to begin direct flights to New Zealand in June, providing a significant boost to the New Zealand economy, Auckland Airport officials said Wednesday.

Sichuan Airlines will operate between Auckland and Chengdu three times a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, using an A330-200 aircraft with direct flights taking 13 hours.

The service is expected to add 81,000 seats a year to and from China and deliver a boost of an estimated 102 million NZ dollars (73.1 million US dollars) to the New Zealand economy, airport acting aeronautical commercial general manager Scott Tasker said in a statement.

"Sichuan Airlines will provide the first direct flight from Chengdu to New Zealand and will cater for the growing numbers of Chinese visiting our country," said Tasker.

On average, each Chinese visitor spent about 4,300 NZ dollars (3,082 US dollars) in New Zealand, according to government figures, and they were increasingly travelling more widely around the country, he said. 



Editor: Zeng Yunheng