New Zealand cherry industry will benefit from eight flights from Christchurch to Taipei in January

China Airlines has scheduled eight dedicated freight aircraft between Taipei and Christchurch during January to take help high-value exports like cherries into Asian markets.

The services will transport 800 tonnes of fresh cherries and live seafood out of Christchurch, with general cargo filling the inbound flights.

The cherry season alone is expected to produce 5,000 tonnes of fruit this season and the direct scheduled air freight flights will get them to Asian markets quickly, to command the highest prices.

An air cargo spokesperson said exporters were concerned the reduced number of widebody aircraft around the world at the moment might impact deliveries of the New Zealand-grown orders but said the China Airlines service has answered the call.

The first aircraft of the service is due to arrive in Christchurch on 5 January and depart later in the day. The service to and from Taipei will continue on alternate days until January 19.

The China Airlines service is not the only one carrying South Island specialties to northern markets.

Christchurch Airport chief Executive Justin Watson said Air New Zealand was also operating five 787 passenger aircraft out of Christchurch as freight-only flights to the US and Asian markets each week until the end of March.

“The extra cargo flights are a great win for South Island exporters and we are thankful for the support from the government Maintaining International Air Connectivity scheme,” Watson said.

“We know our specialty foods are keenly sought after in offshore markets, so we are pleased to help get them overseas from here.”