WELLINGTON, June 13 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand's largest city Auckland is set to welcome Sichuan Airlines' inaugural flight from Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province on Tuesday, said New Zealand Transport Minister Simon Bridges.
Sichuan Airlines will operate three direct flights per week between Auckland and Chengdu.
"New Zealand is in a strong position to attract airlines, with a liberal international air transport policy that allows most major airlines to operate services to New Zealand without restriction," Bridges said in a release.
"We have negotiated 60 new or amended air services agreements since 2012," Bridges said, adding " In that time period, the number of services Chinese airlines can offer each week under arrangements between our countries has risen from 7 to 59."
"New Zealand is an increasingly popular tourist destination for Chinese visitors," he said.
In the year ended March 2017, 404,384 Chinese visitors came to New Zealand -- an increase of 7 percent on the year before, and visitors from China spent 1.45 billion NZ dollars (1.05 billion U.S. dollars), second only to the spending by visitors from Australia, according to the minister.
"This new Sichuan Airlines service is a reflection of the growing trade and tourism links between China and New Zealand, and it raises the number of airlines now operating from China to New Zealand from five to six," Bridges said.
New Zealand is further expanding its international connectivity, allowing people to get to and from Chinese provinces with greater ease, he said, adding that it is also a testament to the success of New Zealand's International Air Transport Policy, which provides additional opportunities for these airlines.