AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Direct flights between China's Haikou city and Auckland in New Zealand were launched on Friday as an aircraft carrying over 60 Chinese tourists landed at the Auckland International Airport.
The round-trip service, operated by an Airbus A330-300 aircraft, is currently scheduled for every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Wang Junchao, deputy consul general of China in Auckland, said closer air links between China and New Zealand have boosted their economic and trade ties, tourism cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.
"Hainan Airlines opened a route from Haikou to Auckland, laying a solid foundation for the construction of international transportation networks and international economic and trade cooperation networks," Wand added.
Scott Tasker, chief customer officer of Auckland International Airport, said that the launching of the air routes is "extremely important" because "it established new people-to-people links between our two countries," while China is New Zealand's largest trading partner and Chinese visitors are the second largest visitor market.
Hainan Airlines Vice President Chen Hao said that the route will play a key role in promoting the economic development and cultural exchanges between Auckland and Haikou.
This is Hainan Airlines' fourth direct flight to Oceania after the Haikou-Sydney, Haikou-Melbourne, and Shenzhen-Auckland routes, said Chen.
Wang Haifeng, general manager of Hainan Airlines Auckland Branch, estimated that round-trip flights on this route can transport over 1,500 passengers to the two places every week. ■