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United Airlines to become the first US airline to land in Christchurch


The flight from San Francisco is set to touch down in Christchurch at 10.35am.

United/Supplied

The flight from San Francisco is set to touch down in Christchurch at 10.35am.

United Airlines is set to become the first US airline to land in Christchurch, with an inaugural flight from San Francisco due to touch down at 10.35am on Sunday morning.

In what the airline is harking as a “pivotal moment in aviation history for Christchurch” the flight will mark the first time a US carrier has flown to New Zealand’s South Island.

The inaugural aircraft has been christened with the name ‘Kiwi Cruiser’, which will be adorned with a special symbolic silver fern to mark the occasion.

The new direct route will be flown three times a week onboard a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

Christchurch Airport chief executive Justin Watson said he was “so excited” to welcome United to the South Island airport for the summer and hoped the service would “supercharge” tourism in the region.

“The American travel market is buoyant, with Americans travelling widely again, and we know they want to experience what the South Island offers.

“In addition, the service brings much needed air freight capacity for South Island producers,” Watson said.

According to United’s senior vice president of global network planning and alliances, Patrick Quayle, Aotearoa is “such a special destination that offers travellers an experience unlike anywhere else in the world”.

United Airlines

A short rom-com from the US airline.

“This is a route I’ve personally wanted to add to United’s network for a long time – I had the opportunity to backpack in New Zealand earlier in my life,” Quayle said.

Air New Zealand chief transformation and alliances officer, Mike Williams, added that the new non-stop Christchurch to San Francisco service is an expansion of the “already strong alliance partnership between the airlines”.

“This new route is great for customers, who now have even more connection options between New Zealand and the US,” Williams said.

The configuration of the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner offers 28 Polaris business class, 21 Premium Plus, 36 Economy Plus and 158 Economy seats on every flight.

Christchurch Airport’s Planespotters’ Park will be open between 9am and 3pm for those wanting to watch the aircraft’s landing and departure.



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