New Zealand tourism sector welcomes new U.S. air link

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A new alliance between Australian and U.S. airlines is expected to provide a significant boost for New Zealand’s economy, officials said.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said he had authorized an alliance between Australia’s Qantas and American Airlines, enabling the two carriers to create a new direct service between Los Angeles and Auckland, which would start in June next year.

“This new service will give more choice and lower fares for travelers on the Auckland-Los Angeles route. Los Angeles is New Zealand’s main gateway to the United States,” Bridges said in a statement.

“Given American Airlines’ extensive domestic network in the United States, the alliance also means New Zealand will be a more attractive destination for Americans than ever before.”

The alliance followed a recent announcement from United Airlines that it would start a direct service between San Francisco and Auckland in July next year.

“The U.S.A. is New Zealand’s third largest tourism market. So far this year, more than 230,000 U.S. visitors travelled to New Zealand – an increase of 11.1 percent over 2014,” said Bridges.

Total spending by U.S. visitors had grown by an estimated 39 percent to 967 million NZ dollars (682.79 million U.S. dollars) a year, according to the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand.

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