Air New Zealand to launch Christchurch-Perth service

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Air New Zealand will commence a twice weekly flight between Christchurch and Perth in December, as it seeks to extend its alliance with Virgin Australia.

The twice weekly service will operate until late April 2014 with a Boeing 767-300ER and Virgin Australia will place its code on the service.

"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," says Virgin Australia chief commercial officer Judith Crompton.

In September last year, Air New Zealand increased capacity on the Auckland-Perth route, replacing the 767-300 with a larger Boeing 777-200ER on its daily services.

The announcement comes a few weeks after Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia filed an application with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) seeking an extension of their trans-Tasman alliance for a further five years from 31 December 2013.

As part of the application, lodged in early March, the two carriers are pressing for the ACCC to drop capacity conditions on some routes that were part of the original authorisation granted in December 2010.

Qantas and Emirates were recently granted approval for their alliance from the ACCC, which included similar conditions.

Both carriers also indicated that they may look to start nonstop flights between Perth and New Zealand as a result of their alliance.

Innovata schedules show that Air New Zealand will be the only airline to operate nonstop services between Christchurch and Perth.