Ladies and Gentlemen
December 16th 2015 is a day that I will never forget.
I had a terrible fall at a Citizenship Ceremony in the afternoon and was told by the emergency doctor I was lucky not to have fractured my leg.
As I said on the day, nothing was going to stop me from being there to welcome the first China Southern Dreamliner and the party of VIPs, who flew on that inaugural flight from Guangzhou to Christchurch making our dream of this vital South to South connection a reality. The South of China and the South Island of New Zealand connected by a Dreamliner that literally made our dream come true.
It is hard to believe that day was almost two years ago – like China Southern itself, time really does fly.
I have personally had the opportunity to fly this route and what a difference it makes to wake up and clear customs at home.
Anyone who has been to functions that I have spoken at will know that I mention the flights as much as possible. That’s not because I’m moonlighting as part of China Southern’s marketing team, but rather because I really do want to express how much we as a city and indeed as a region and the South Island value these flights and to express our gratitude.
So once again I want to thank everyone in the room who is working so hard to keep the dream alive. To Rebecca and the China Southern team, thank you for the great commitment you have made to Christchurch. You are now established friends of our city and have become an important part of the Christchurch Story.
I also want to congratulate you for what you have achieved thus far. I understand that the flights will go daily once again over the peak season which is just fantastic. I am confident that you are in a sound position to expand – and I hope to see Christchurch become an important part of China Southern’s increasingly global strategy.
To Malcolm Johns and the Christchurch International Airport crew thank you very much for your ongoing support of China Southern, but more than that I want to recognise the vision you have shown that has contributed to the success of the flights. Christchurch is the Gateway to the South, the place where visitors to our country want to be. You recognise that, and I thank you for the leadership you continue to show.
To Consul-General Wang and his staff, and to everyone here who has helped us to reach this important milestone I offer you my gratitude and congratulations.
I believe this connection serves to strengthen our ties, and I wish everyone at China Southern success and prosperity.
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