Vanuatu Government finalised a contract with the China Civil Engineering Construction and Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Company JV for rehabilitation of Port Vila Bauerfield Airport runway, apron and related infrastructure works (Radio NZ/Fiji Times, 13/15-May-2017). As previously reported by CAPA, the contract is worth USD47.7 million and works are expected to complete within 340 days. The upgrade will allow Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia to resume full international services following suspension in Jun-2016 citing unsafe runway conditions.
News for South Pacific
New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) released (15-May-2017) figures from the New Zealand Tourism Forecasts 2017-2023 showing New Zealand’s tourism sector is expected to grow significantly over the next seven years with international visitors projected to spend NZD15.3 billion (USD10.3 billion) a year by 2023. New Zealand Tourism Minister Paula Bennett stated: "The figures released confirm that New Zealand’s tourism sector is in good shape. Visitor arrivals are projected to reach 4.9 million annually by 2023 – up 39% from the 3.5 million visitors who came here in 2016". [more - original PR]
Queenstown Airport, in its May-2017 'ZQN news' newsletter, announced (May-2017) all four airline partners will be operating after dark services from the end of Jun-2017, subject to regulatory approval. CEO Colin Keel stated: "Virgin Australia and Qantas are in the final stages of approval for their after-dark regulatory approvals" and will be completing proving flights over the last two weeks of May-2017. [more - original PR]
New South Wales Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance, via the official Twitter account, announced (15-May-2017) the government will add 200 train service frequencies per week on the Sydney Airport Line before the end of 2017. Sydney Airport welcomed the announcement stating average wait times will decrease to 7.5 minutes during off-peak hours and 15 minutes during late nights. The airport's five year ground access improvement programme is due for completion one year ahead of schedule and is being complemented by the NSW Government’s own upgrades to the road network around the airport. [more - original PR]
Qantas released (May-2017) a new website asking the public to name the eight new Boeing 787-9 aircraft expected to begin delivery later in 2017. The Qantas website states: "We want their names to reflect the true Spirit of Australia, so your suggestions should be around people, places or things that reflect the depth and breadth of this place we all call home. It could be a notable person, a ground breaking invention, a piece of our culture, a saying, a man-made or natural landmark, anything that sums up what Australia means to you".
Tourism Australia announced (12-May-2017) a partnership with the Toyota AFL Premiership to host the first ever match in China. The game between the Gold Coast Suns and Port Adelaide at the Jiangwan Stadium in Shanghai will be played in front of a sell-out crowd and a broadcast audience in China of millions. As the Official Tourism Partner for the game, Tourism Australia will work alongside South Australian Tourism Commission and Tourism and Events Queensland to leverage tourism opportunities in China before, during and after the game. Tourism Australia regional GM Greater China Andrew Hogg stated media exposure from the AFL game and tourism-related events alongside it would significantly boost Australia’s profile in China and showcase Adelaide and the Gold Coast as tourism destinations to a new Chinese audience. [more - original PR]
Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) commented (12-May-2017) on new figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics highlighting for the first time China is on the cusp of overtaking New Zealand as Australia's biggest source of international visitors. TTF CEO Margy Osmond stated: "In the period to Mar-2017, Australia welcomed 1.3 million Chinese visitors, an increase of 12.3% year on year, and just 100,000 fewer than New Zealand. Chinese visitors are the highest spending of all nationalities visiting Australia with an average spend of AUD8328 (USD6158) per trip, and with the number of Chinese tourists traveling overseas each year expected to double to 200 million by 2020, the Chinese tourism boom is well and truly set to become the backbone of Australia’s visitor economy". [more - original PR]
Wellington Airport reported (11-May-2017) stage one of its NZD300 million (USD205 million) capital investment programme is "almost completed". Upcoming projects under the programme include:
- Development of a multi-level transportation hub;
- Refurbishment of existing terminal space to improve retail, food and beverage options;
- Expanding the international terminal;
- Development of the four star Rydges Hotel, scheduled to complete in late 2018. [more - original PR]
Virgin Australia stated Alliance Airlines will take over Brisbane-Port Macquarie, Brisbane-Bundaberg, Brisbane-Gladstone and Brisbane-Moranbah services from 16-Jul-2017 (Port Macquarie News, 11-May-2017). Virgin Australia stated the decision was in line with the carrier reducing its ATR fleet, as reported by CAPA on 01-May-2017. Alliance Airlines stated it will commence operations on the routes utilising Fokker 70 equipment. The partnership between Virgin Australia and Alliance Airlines includes ticket sales via Virgin Australia for Alliance services and velocity frequent flyer members earning points and status credits on Alliance services.
Fiji Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the proposed New Labasa/Vanua Levu International Airport must be able to accommodate up to Boeing 737 aircraft type to be economically viable (Fiji Times, 12-May-2017). Mr Sayed-Khaiyum explained despite growing demand, the current Labasa Airport can only handle up to ATR sized aircraft, resulting in high airfares due to low yield.