TRYING FOR A NEW ZEALAND TOUCH DOWN登陸新西蘭

How the land of rugby and the long white cloud welcomed a new team. By TIM PRITCHARD

Discovery - - POINTS IN TIME -

欖球與長白雲之鄉迎來新團隊。撰文:

ON 4 MAY

1983, a Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-200 flying from Hong Kong, featuring the old green and white striped livery, affectionately known as the ‘lettuce leaf sandwich’, touched down at Auckland Airport.

It marked the airline’s inaugural flight to New Zealand, or at least the inaugural commercial flight: on 19 October 1946, shortly after Cathay was founded, the airline flew one charter between Hong Kong and Auckland to return the crew of the steamship Maori on the airline’s Douglas DC-3, Betsy. The launch of the route in 1983 made Auckland the 27th destination in Cathay Pacific’s growing network, an expansion driven by the purchase of its long-range 747s in 1979.

While Cathay Pacific had been running a sales office in New Zealand since 1974, it wasn’t until November 1982 that the airline found a way to fly to the Pacific nation. The solution was a tripartite agreement operating on rotation between Cathay Pacific, Papua New Guinea flag carrier Air Niugini and Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand operated the weekly flight for six months, with Cathay Pacific operating the next period, followed by Air Niugini. The flight had a brief stopover in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, but passengers remained onboard as the modest airport’s transit lounge couldn’t accommodate all the passengers from a jumbo jet.

Fast forward to today. Cathay Pacific operates two daily flights from Hong Kong to Auckland during the southern hemisphere’s summer season (DecemberFebruary). In October 2016, the airline became the first international airline to fly the A350 to New Zealand, when CX197 from Hong Kong landed in Auckland.

Last month, the A350 link to New Zealand expanded with the launch of direct flights to Christchurch, on New Zealand’s South Island. The seasonal, three-times-weekly, non-stop service capitalises on the growing demand for visitors to the South Island – a hotspot for outdoor activities such as kayaking, hiking, biking (and skiing in the winter).

‘ The time is right with the arrival of the A350 to launch the service to Christchurch during our peak summer season,’ says Mark Pirihi, Cathay Pacific’s country manager, New Zealand and Pacific Islands. ‘Demand for travel to New Zealand is high, and Christchurch is the international gateway to the South Island and all it has to offer, from scenery to adventure to fine food and wine.’

54月 日,國泰航空一班從香港起飛的班機在奧克蘭機場降落。這是一架波音747-200客機,機身髹上當年有「生菜葉三文治」暱稱的綠、白雙色間條標誌。

這是國泰首航新西蘭的班機,應該說是首航的商業班機,因為早於1946年月10 19日,國泰剛成立不久之後,就曾經使用公司旗下的杜格拉斯DC- 3型客機Betsy作為機,將Maori號輪船上的船員從香港載回奧克蘭。其後國泰於1979年購入波音747長程機,於1983年推出的新航線,令奧克蘭成為公司不斷擴充的航空網絡內第27

個航點。

雖然國泰自從1974年起就在新西蘭設立機票辦事處,但要到1982年11月,才想出如何飛往這個太平洋國家的方法。解決辦法就是由國泰航空、巴布亞新幾內亞的國營航空公司Air Niugini及新西蘭航空訂立三方協議,輪流營運。

新西蘭航空營運每周一班的服務六個月,然後國泰緊接經營,接著是Air Niugini

航空。客機會中途於巴布亞新幾內亞的首府莫爾茲比港作短暫停留,不過乘客都會留在機上,因為當地機場的規模不大,轉機室無法容納珍寶客機內所有的乘客。

到了今天,在南半球的夏季( 12月至2

月)期間,國泰每天有兩班航機從香港飛往奧克蘭。2016年10月,當來自香港的CX197

班機在奧克蘭著陸時,國泰航空就成為首家以空中巴士A350客機飛往新西蘭的國際航空公司。

前往新西蘭的A350客機在上月擴充服務,推出直航航班前往新西蘭南島的基督城。這項每周三班的季節性航班服務,可以滿足愈來愈多旅客前往南島的需求。在南半球的夏季,這裡可以讓人盡情划艇、遠足和騎單車,冬季則可滑雪,是戶外活動的熱門勝地。

國泰航空的新西蘭及太平洋島嶼地區經理Mark Pirihi說:「在我們夏天的旺季推出A350客機前往基督城的服務,時機再好不過。前往新西蘭旅遊的需求相當大,而基督城是通往南島的國際大門,這裡有如畫的風光、各種歷奇體驗和美酒佳餚,讓旅客盡情享受。」

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