Today, China Southern Airlines(external link) officially announced its sponsorship of one of the largest cultural events in the country as part of an investment programme to foster China-New Zealand relations.

With China being New Zealand’s second-largest international tourism market, and as the first and only mainland airline flying direct routes to both Auckland and Christchurch, General Manager of China Southern Airlines Lily Wang says the air carrier has a crucial role to play in strengthening ties between the countries.

"As the largest showcase of Chinese culture, we see our sponsorship of the Lantern Festivals in Auckland and Christchurch as a great opportunity to further deepen understanding and appreciation of the two cultures," says Lily. "It is a great honour to be invited by both councils to be part of this special event."

The sponsorship of the Lantern Festivals is one of a series of initiatives that the Chinese airline has invested in celebration of the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism and the ninth anniversary of the inaugural flight from Guangzhou to Auckland, its sister city.

In December last year, China Southern Airlines sponsored five young Kiwis to venture to Guangzhou, China, on an exchange. The aim was to bridge the cultural and linguistic divide by enabling young New Zealanders to learn the language and culture of our largest trading partner, thereby strengthening the relationship between the two sister cities.

China Southern is the airline partner Terracotta Warriors exhibition(external link) at Te Papa Museum in Wellington. 

In November last year, China Southern Airlines also launched a new Dreamliner, increasing seat capacity between the two countries with the aim of strengthening the bridge between China and New Zealand. The new 787-9 transports 295 passengers daily from Guangzhou to Christchurch and runs ten to 14 flights weekly to Auckland.

For further information about the Chinese Lantern Festivals, see link here to the Chinese Lantern Festival in Auckland(external link) and here for the South Island Lantern Festival in Christchurch(external link).

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