News Briefs

    Visitor arrivals to Cook Islands up 27% to 7731 in Feb-2017

    Cook Islands Ministry of Finance & Economic Management reported (27-Mar-2017) visitor arrivals to Cook Islands reached 7731 in Feb-2017. Details include:

    • Visitor arrivals: 7731, +26.6% year-on-year;
      • New Zealand: 4270, +40.7%;
      • Australia: 1129, +27.1%;
      • US: 602, +44.0%;
      • Canada: 355, -20.6%.

    New director appointed for New Zealand’s biggest aviation union

    E tū appointed (27-Mar-2017) Marja Lubeck as director of aviation, effective immediately. Ms Lubeck replaces Kelvin Ellis, who resigned to continue his studies. Ms Lubeck is a former president of the Flight Attendants Association. E tū is New Zealand‘s biggest aviation union and represents cabin crew, ground staff and aviation security workers.

    CASA to continue to work with other like-minded safety regulators to improve aviation arrangements

    Australia‘s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) acting CEO and director of aviation safety Shane Carmody said (27-Mar-2017) the agency intends to “continue to work with other like-minded safety regulators around the world to develop and improve arrangements that can benefit Australian aviation”. Mr Carmody stated the authority is committed to expanding opportunities for the Australian aviation industry by “keeping regulatory burdens as light as possible while maintaining our enviable safety record”.

    CASA and Queensland Institute of Medical Research launch pilot health initiative

    Australia‘s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) acting CEO and director of aviation safety Shane Carmody announced (27-Mar-2017) the launch of a new initiative aimed at improving the understanding of the health of pilots. CASA was approached by the Queensland Institute of Medical Research about a collaborative project with air operators to identify medical risk areas in the pilot population. CASA principal medical officer Dr Michael Drane says data will be drawn from within CASA’s medical records system. The project is consistent with updated ICAO ‘Standards and Recommended Practices’ which provide a role for safety regulators in aviation health promotion and preventative health care. Other health areas that may be examined in the future include obesity, sleep apnoea and pterygia – growths on the eye which have been linked to exposure to ultraviolet light.

    CASA sets up online form for investigation of drone incidents

    Australia‘s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) reported (27-Mar-2017) it has set up an online form to capture the essential information required for a potential investigation, to streamline the reporting of complaints and incidents for unmanned aerial vehicles. The authority noted more than 950 remotely piloted aircraft operator’s certificates have been awarded, and nearly 4000 people have notified CASA of their intention to operate in the new under 2kg commercial category. There are more than 4600 people who hold a remote pilot licence, which authorises them to fly for certified remotely piloted aircraft operators.

    Townsville Airport temporarily closes as of 27-Mar-2017 until further notice

    Townsville Airport, via its official Facebook account, advised (27-Mar-2017) due to dangerous weather conditions cause by Cyclone Debbie, it will close as of 14:00 on 27-Mar-2017 until further notice. All air services are temporarily suspended.

    NZ Post signs agreement with Henan Bonded Logistics Centre and Trademonster

    New Zealand Post signed (24-Mar-2017) an agreement with the Henan Bonded Logistics Centre (HNBLC) and Trademonster to simplify access for New Zealand companies to the China market. HNBLC processes more than 90 million domestic parcels in China and more than half of all cross border e-commerce trade. Trademonster has a strategic alliance with NZ Post and strong relationships with major e-commerce platforms in China. NZ Post transported more than seven million items between New Zealand and China in 2016 and volumes are forecast to grow by up to 15% over the next 12 to 18 months.

    Gold Coast Airport CEO ‘pleased’ with Jan-2017 traffic

    Gold Coast Airport chief executive Chris Miller stated (27-Mar-2017) he is “pleased” with international passenger growth in Jan-2017 that contributed to the airport’s record busiest month. The airport attribute the growth to AirAsiaX‘s new Kuala Lumpur-Gold Coast-Auckland service and increased capacity by Hong Kong Airlines over Chinese New Year.

    Tourism and Events Queensland and Utour sign cooperative marketing agreement

    Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) and Utour signed (27-Mar-2017) a two year MoU to work together to promote Queensland’s destinations and experiences in China, via a cooperative marketing agreement. The parties will jointly undertake a range of activities including marketing campaigns, trade and media familiarisations, trade roadshows in greater China, and Queensland promotions through Utour’s media channels.

    Queensland Tourism Minister to lead trade and tourism delegation to China

    Queensland State Government Tourism Minister Kate Jones announced (24-Mar-2017) she is leading a high-level tourism mission to China and Hong Kong, to promote Queensland as a leading investment destination. Meetings, to be conducted between 23-Mar-2017 and 30-Mar-2017, will include prominent Chinese investment partners and key business leaders, travel businesses, airlines, Chambers of Commerce and Chinese banks to promote investment and doing business in Queensland. Ms Jones said she would also hold discussions with potential new investors and showcase Queensland’s investment pipeline worth more than AUD13 billion (USD9.9 billion).

    China and New Zealand designate 2019 as China-New Zealand Year of Tourism

    New Zealand and China announced (27-Mar-2017) they will designate 2019 as the ‘China-New Zealand Year of Tourism’. Tourism New Zealand acting CEO Brighid Kelly said the year of tourism will spark new relations and open doors for New Zealand tourism businesses. In 2016, there were more than 400,000 Chinese arrivals to New Zealand and more than 100,000 New Zealand arrivals to China. Tourism New Zealand said it is focusing on attracting free independent travellers from China who stay longer, spend more and visit more regions than tour groups.

    CASA welcomes amendments to Australia-US bilateral aviation safety agreement

    Australia‘s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) acting CEO and director of aviation safety Shane Carmody welcomed (27-Mar-2017) the signature of amendments to the Australia-US bilateral aviation safety agreement. According to Mr Carmody, this will make Australian access to the US aviation market “cheaper and easier” and will benefit Australian aviation parts and products designers and manufacturers, as well as people and companies that export aircraft and aircraft products to the US.

    New Zealand Tourism Minister welcomes signing of China-New Zealand Year of Tourism initiative

    New Zealand Tourism Minister Paula Bennett welcomed (27-Mar-2017) the signing of the ‘2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism’ initiative, stating the agreement has potential to add to the NZD1.7 billion (USD1.1 billion) p/a that Chinese visitors spend in New Zealand. Tourism New Zealand officials will be working with the China National Tourism Administration to establish a focus for the year that reflects the priorities and interests of both countries. Tourism New Zealand’s focus is on encouraging tourists to visit outside of the peak season and to explore wider regions, in addition to visiting iconic destinations.

    New Zealand and China enhance air service agreement

    New Zealand enhanced (27-Mar-2017) its air service agreement with China by 20% to 59 weekly passenger services, as confirmed by Transport Minister Simon Bridges. Mr Bridges noted: “We’ve seen strong growth with visitors from China and we expect this to continue. China is our second largest source of visitors after Australia, so it’s important that we have the appropriate agreements in place to support this”. Chinese airlines can now operate between airports in New Zealand during the course of their international service. In 2014 the agreement provided 42 weekly services, increased to 49 in 2016. Mr Bridges said New Zealand will “continue to work towards an open skies agreement with China”. Five Chinese airlines currently operate to New Zealand and a sixth, Sichuan Airlines, will enter the market in Jun-2017. New Zealand now has 61 air service agreements with countries and territories with a further 20 awaiting signature. Arrivals from China stood at 421,00 in 2016, a 12% year-on-year increase.

    Qantas and LATAM extend codeshare to include Santiago-Melbourne service

    Qantas Airways extended (27-Mar-2017) its codeshare with LATAM Airlines Chile, to include LATAM’s three times weekly Santiago-Melbourne nonstop service, scheduled to launch on 06-Oct-2017.

    New Zealand Tourism Export Council welcomes extension of Chinese visas to five years

    New Zealand Tourism Export Council chief executive Lesley Immink expressed support for a decision to extend the the multi entry visa for Chinese nationals from three to five years, as it increases the ease of repeat tourism visits (, 27-Mar-2017). The extension of the visa period is part of a package of measures announced betweenChina and New Zealand, during the official New Zealand visit from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

    Qantas: In-flight WiFi remains on track for domestic rollout from mid-2017

    Qantas stated that despite it postponing the launch of its in-flight WiFi streaming video on demand service, the carrier remains “on-track for a broader rollout to the Qantas domestic fleet from mid-2017” (Australian Business Traveller/, 27-Mar-2017). The carrier attributed the delay to “stability issues” that it is working to resolve with its partners, including ViaSat and the Australian National Broadband Network. The system will allow passengers to stream video on their personal devices, via a Ka-band satellite connection from the aircraft.

    Qantas to continue to operate Perth Airport T1 lounge even after new T3 lounge opens

    Qantas confirmed it will continue to operate its lounge at Perth Airport terminal 1 for partner airline passengers, even after it opens a new international lounge at the airport at terminal 3 in 2018 (Australian Business Traveller, 27-Mar-2017). The carrier will open the new lounge as part of an upgrade project for the airport, to support the carrier’s new Perth-London service, which is due to commence in Mar-2018. The airline will work with Perth Airport to ensure T3 facilities are upgraded, and Western Australia’s Government will contribute AUD14 million (USD10.7 million) towards the infrastructure and fit out required as part of the upgrade.

    Australian carriers cancel northeast Queensland flights as Cyclone Debbie hits coast

    Australia airlines outlined (27/28-Mar-2017) the following cancellations related to Tropical Cyclone Debbie:

    • Qantas: Services to/from Hamilton Island, Townsville, Proserpine or Mackay affected between 27-Mar-2017 and 29-Mar-2017; [more – original PR – Qantas];
    • Jetstar Airways: Services from Brisbane to Mackay, Proserpine and Townsville, and from Melbourne to Townsville cancelled on 29-Mar-2017; [more – original PR – Jetstar];
    • Virgin Australia: Services to/from Hamilton Island, Mackay, Middlemount, Moranbah, Proserpine and Townsville cancelled for 28-Mar-2017. Services to/from Hamilton Island, Mackay, Moranbah and Proserpine cancelled for 29-Mar-2017; [more – original PR – Virgin Australia];
    • Tigerair Australia: Services between Sydney and the Whitsunday Coast cancelled for 28-Mar-2017. [more – original PR – Tigerair Australia]