Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia are set to become the first airlines to offer a direct service between Christchurch and the West Australian capital of Perth in over 20 years.
The twice weekly non-stop service will operate through the peak demand period from December 2013 until late April 2014.
Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon announced the new route, on behalf of the alliance partners, at the official opening this evening of Christchurch International Airport Limited’s new terminal facilities.
Luxon highlighted Christchurch and Perth as the two largest trans-Tasman destinations without a current direct alliance service.
“This is a great time to be linking these two destinations,” he said. “The West Australian economy continues to grow at a faster rate than the rest of Australia and rebuilding activity is poised to stimulate travel demand within Christchurch and Canterbury.
“Christchurch is also a convenient hub for the whole South Island – particularly now the airport company is providing world class terminal facilities.”
Virgin Australia Chief Commercial Officer Judith Crompton said Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand have been working together for around two years now to ensure that they offer the best possible network and service across the Tasman.
“We have been very pleased with the recovery we have seen on Christchurch routes in recent times and we expect traffic to continue to increase as a result of the new airport facilities,” she said.
“Linking Christchurch with Perth, which has long had the highest growth rate of all Australian capital city airports, will provide an attractive service for business and leisure travellers alike.
“The hard work and cooperation of Perth Airport and Christchurch International Airport has been integral to the formation of this new route and we look forward to working with them in future for the benefit of our customers.”
The airlines say the new service has been made possible by the trans-Tasman alliance, for which reauthorisation is currently being sought.
It will be operated by an Air New Zealand Boeing 767 aircraft and Virgin Australia will codeshare on the service, so customers can book with either Air New Zealand or Virgin Australia and earn frequent flyer points and status credits in the process.
The new service will also provide convenient onward connections on the two airlines’ extensive networks from both Christchurch and Perth.
Flights depart Christchurch at 1540 and Perth at 1910 on Wednesdays and Saturdays.