New Zealand's Auckland International Airport agreed (11-Jan-2010) to purchase a 24.55% stake from Westpac Bank in North Queensland Airports (NQA), the operator of Cairns Airport and Mackay Airport for USD123.4 million. The proposed purchase, which is due to settle on 13-Jan-2010, is conditional on NQA obtaining the consent of its financiers to the proposed transaction prior to that date. [more]
Auckland Airport agrees to purchase a stake in Cairns and Mackay Airports
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Hong Kong Airlines to grow in Australia via Virgin Australia partnership. Auckland launches Nov-2016
Having built a regional Asian network anchored around mainland China as a source market, HNA Group's Hong Kong Airlines is leveraging its hub capability from short/medium haul connections to long haul transfers, which also reduce CASK. Hong Kong Airlines resumed long haul flying in early 2016 with a service to Cairns and the Gold Coast. Auckland will be added from Nov-2016 and Hong Kong Airlines should be able to break up the Air New Zealand-Cathay Pacific joint venture on the route.
Hong Kong Airlines is restricted from serving major Australian cities due to bilateral limits (Australia and Hong Kong have not been able to agree on increased capacity levels). Hong Kong Airlines' owner HNA has bought into Virgin Australia, which plans to serve the key HNA hubs of Beijing and Hong Kong in 2017, providing access from major Australian cities. Virgin could also help Hong Kong Airlines make viable service to smaller Australian cities.
Hong Kong Airlines is receiving a lift in Australia and New Zealand bookings, attributed to Asian consumers shifting away from travel in Europe, which has repeatedly been impacted by terrorist acts. Hong Kong Airlines believes that passengers are "viewing Australia and New Zealand together as more of a safe-haven status destination".
Gulf airlines in Australia/New Zealand: 2017 could surpass 2016's record growth
Qatar Airways' casual remark in Jan-2016 that it would launch nonstop service to Auckland has resulted in nearly two years of accelerated growth as competitors look to pre-empt Qatar. That, in turn, is driving Qatar to build its presence in Australia and New Zealand – which is disproportionately small compared to the presence of Emirates and Etihad. In Feb-2017 Qatar will finally launch nonstop service to Auckland, making that air service the world's longest flight. After the launch of flights to Australia's secondary city of Adelaide in May-2016, Qatar intends to open service to another smaller market – Canberra.
2016 was the most prominent year for Gulf airlines growing in Australia and New Zealand. Excluding Qatar's proposed Canberra service, and other services under consideration, 2017 will be the third largest year for growth, but depending on how commercial and aeropolitical matters evolve, 2017 could surpass 2016 for growth. So far, there will be more absolute growth from Qatar than Emirates in 2017, by comparison with 2016.
In Australia/NZ Gulf airlines have doubled their presence between 2012 and 2017. In Australia/New Zealand, by 2020, Gulf airlines could create the presence of two Singapore Airlines, an operation which established itself over many decades. Gulf growth has broader implications as their mostly European traffic flows challenge historical Australia-Europe hubs in Asia.