There's definitely a bit of 'east meets west' in the air, with Air New Zealand and Air China inking a 'strategic alliance' agreement in the same week that Qantas revealed plans for a joint venture with China Eastern.
The proposed alliance between the two flag carriers, who are also Star Alliance partners, will see Air China launch direct flights between Beijing and Auckland service, along with "better network connections in both China and New Zealand and increased frequency of flights."
Air New Zealand will keep its current Shanghai-Auckland service.
While China is New Zealand’s second largest inbound visitor market, Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon admitted that "China remains a challenging market for us to operate to."
"Working with a strong, well respected home market carrier like Air China would give us a huge opportunity to convert this potential growth, while jointly offering the additional capacity to support it."
Air New Zealand has been actively promoting itself to Chinese travellers with a romance-themed marketing campaign which presents New Zealand as an idyllic destination for couples and a partnership with hit Chinese reality dating show You Are The One.
The airline even produced a safety video expressly for the Chinese market with influential Chinese social media celebs Molly Wang and Solo Zhuang in a heart-warming boy-meets-girl tale of love and life jackets.
However, unlike its usual safety videos, the "Romance Class" clip was made purely for online use.
The Air China deal is AirNZ's third tie-up with an Asian airline, and follows partnerships with Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
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