SYDNEY (XFNews) - Air New Zealand Ltd said it has applied to the New Zealand Ministry of Transport for the necessary regulatory approvals to commence non-stop flights between Auckland and Shanghai.
The airline, majority owned by the New Zealand government, said it will also shortly apply to the Chinese authorities as well as seek landing slots at Shanghai's Pudong Airport.
Under current bilateral agreements New Zealand airlines have rights to operate up to seven return services per week to China.
Air New Zealand market group general manager Norm Thompson said in a statement that it will take about six months to gain the regulatory approvals, which will allow services to start towards the end of 2006.
He said the airline will seek approval for a service operating three times per week utilizing new Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.
Flight duration northbound will be about 12 hours 45 minutes, with the flight south taking approximately 11 hours and 45 minutes.
More than 84,000 people visited New Zealand from China in 2004, up 28% on 2003 while more than 45,000 New Zealanders travelled to China over the same period, up 38% on 2003.