Shanghai route proves successful for Air New Zealand

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Air New Zealand will add more capacity on its Auckland-Shanghai service following a positive response from the Chinese market.

"Shanghai has been a really interesting market to us," the Star Alliance carrier's chief executive Christopher Luxon told reporters on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Cape Town.

The carrier suspended its twice weekly service to Beijing in June 2012 in order to focus on the Shanghai market, which chief executive Christopher Luxon says has boosted traffic significantly.

"We've actually been able to build that route up so it has grown something like 71% in the last year," he says.

Innovata schedules show that Air New Zealand is the only airline flying between the two cities, and operates a daily service with Boeing 767-300ERs.

From July, the airline will replace three of those services with the larger Boeing 777-200ER. It will also add an additional 777 frequency in January 2014.

Luxon says that the airline is also likely to deploy its first Boeing 787-9s on the route once its first three of the type arrive in July and September next year. He adds that the airline would be aiming to operate all Shanghai services with the 787-9 by the end of 2014.

Luxon says that on the whole the airline is "starting to execute really well in Asia". He adds that a key to that has been hiring former Delta Airlines manager Sandeep Bahl to the role of regional general manager Asia.

Bahl brought a depth of experience in China which has helped the airline grow, he says.

"Having a local manager who understands the market really well - the government, the trade and customers - has made a power of difference," says Luxon.