United Airlines has announced it will begin flying between Christchurch and San Francisco from 1 December this year.
The airline says the new Dreamliner 787 service will fly three times a week for four months over the summer season.
Christchurch Airport Chief Executive, Justin Watson says the new service will get South Islanders to the United States on one flight, while also responding to Americans’ interest in the South Island.
“The American travel market is buoyant. Americans are travelling widely again and we know they want to experience what the South Island offers,” he says.
“This new service will supercharge tourism value to New Zealand. Statistics show American visitors who enter the country through Christchurch Airport spend 42% more in New Zealand and stay 33% longer.
Mr Watson says the seasonal service is forecast to bring in $44 million in visitor spend for New Zealand, with $32 million of that in South Island regions.
“This is the ideal combination of national value impact and regional economic impact. The service will help South Island high-value exports to the US, which, based on historical records, could exceed 800 tonnes for the season.”
Mr Watson says 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. 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,” he said.
United Airlines is a major American airline based in Chicago, a member of the Star Alliance which Air New Zealand is also a member of, and flies to more than 210 destinations in the USA and more than 120 destinations internationally, operating more than 4000 daily flights across five continents.