The New Zealand government has approved a strategic alliance between Air New Zealand and Air China in a move that will boost the country's tourism sector, Transport Minister Simon Bridges said Tuesday.
Air New Zealand and Air China announced the intention to enter the alliance during Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to New Zealand in November last year.
Bridges said the alliance would allow a new service to compete with existing services operated by China Southern, China Eastern and Cathay Pacific.
"This alliance means travelers will be able to access more flights and lower fares between New Zealand and Beijing and Shanghai, ensuring they have access to a greater range of choices, " Bridges said in a statement.
"In addition to expanding services, the alliance will mean Air China will actively market New Zealand as a visitor destination," he said.
"China is our second largest tourist market behind Australia, with visitor arrivals due to double in the next five years. Tourists from China recently pushed New Zealand's annual visitor numbers over the 3 million mark."
China was also New Zealand's number one export destination with annual exports reaching 11.3 billion NZ dollars (7.21 billion U.S. dollars) in September 2014.
Bridges had authorized the alliance for an initial term of five years and four months.
During this period, the airlines would need to demonstrate the alliance had delivered real benefits to consumers and had not adversely affected competition in the New Zealand-China market.