Recovering Japanese visitor numbers are prompting Air New Zealand to operate Boeing 747-400 aircraft on the Tokyo route following five years absence.
Visitor numbers declined steadily from a high of 165,000 in 2004 down to about 78,000 in 2009 before growing 12% to 87,700 in 2010 with the help of additional Air New Zealand charter flights and increased marketing.
Air New Zealand will increase capacity by 25% this coming summer on scheduled services between Tokyo's Narita Airport and New Zealand through the use of the 379 seat Boeing 747-400.
Air New Zealand currently operates 304 seat Boeing 777-200 aircraft daily between New Zealand and Tokyo's Narita Airport (Auckland return four times per week and Christchurch return three times per week). Boeing 767-300s are used between New Zealand and Osaka-Kansai Airport five times a week.
Deputy CEO Norm Thompson says switching the Tokyo route to a 747 will provide more than 1,000 additional return seats per week over the high season.
"The move demonstrates Air New Zealand's confidence in the growth potential of the Japan tourism market. The success of special charter flights this summer suggests the Japanese market is experiencing a strong recovery. Air New Zealand is currently operating 14 special return charter flights from nine departure points between the end of December and the beginning of April 2011. That's triple the number we ran last year."
The charters were operated with the support of Tourism New Zealand and Auckland International Airport Limited.
Japanese are the highest spending visitors to New Zealand, spending an average of $4,550 per person. Nearly 88,000 Japanese visited New Zealand in 2010, spending a total of $362 million.
The extra capacity will be deployed on the Tokyo route next summer between December 2011 and February 2012.
Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs ph +64 21 747 320
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