New American Airlines service expected to benefit the South Island

The world's largest airline has revealed two new seasonal flights between the United States and New Zealand.

From October 2020 to March 2021, American Airlines will fly three times a week between Auckland and Dallas and Christchurch and Los Angeles.

American Airlines is teaming up with Qantas to take advantage of an increasing American appetite to explore New Zealand. 

"There's no direct service between us and the South Island... the South Island is very popular for tourists. That's a big driver to be the first, the only and important market in New Zealand," says American Airlines' Asia Pacific managing director, Russ Fortson.

The US is New Zealand's third-largest trade market, the new Christchurch route providing an export opportunity.

"It's really important our importers have that direct access into our market," said ChristchurchNZ chief executive, Joanna Norris.

Photo taken in Christchurch, New Zealand
Photo credit: Newshub

"These new flights will provide that direct connectivity... it's really exciting and will really enhance our economy. It also opens up a whole new market straight into the South Island."

The number of Americans visiting Christchurch grew by 14 percent last year. The new service is expected to bring an extra $52 million - $40 million of that spent in the South Island.

"I would definitely use the flight from Christchurch to Los Angeles, although that's not usually where I go... I usually go someplace else, but it'll be a great springboard to get into the US," American citizen Kim Elder, from Wisconsin, told Newshub.

"I'm always trying to get people to come over and visit me, it's pretty far."

The 13-hour flight into Christchurch will operate over the six-month tourist season.

American Airlines already operates a seasonal service to Los Angeles from Auckland, one of its most successful services globally. Now, there will be an additional service from Auckland to Dallas in a year's time.

"We've been working with American Airlines for over three years on this opportunity," Christchurch Airport chief aeronautical and commercial officer, Justin Watson, told Newshub.

"When they were able to formalise their partnership with Qantas, we were able to get closer to an announcement." 

Flight Centre's managing director, David Coombes, said the expansion is a positive step for the Kiwi market.

"The beauty of what's happening in the Kiwi market now is we've got something like six or seven flights into America... it's not that long ago that your only option was Los Angeles direct," he said.

Tickets will be available online from November 10.