Resumption of international flights marks positive turn for Canterbury’s economy

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Nov 16, 2023 |

The chief executive of the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce has highlighted the urgent need for government formation and stability to address the challenges facing local businesses.

Amidst the prolonged coalition talks following the election, Leeann Watson expressed frustration, emphasising the necessity for swift action to jumpstart the economy.

“We are seeing these coalition talks taking a little longer than what I think anyone expected, which is a little frustrating.”

In an interview with Chris Lynch, she stressed the importance of establishing a new government quickly, noting, “we really need the government to form as quickly as possible and to really get on with kickstarting the economy.”

The Chamber has been vocal about specific policy changes, advocating for the return of 90-day trials and the removal of fair pay agreements, which Watson described as “a real challenge and concern for many, many businesses.”

During a recent insights breakfast co-hosted with ChristchurchNZ, Watson shared her optimism for the Canterbury region, despite the challenges. “There’s plenty of good stuff happening across Canterbury business because there is optimism out there,” she said.

However, Watson also pointed out the current struggles of the local economy, including high inflation, increasing compliance costs, and regulatory uncertainty.

“We’ve seen a downward trend in terms of demand in the South Island,” she explained. Labour market issues persist as well, although there are signs of improvement.

Watson underscored the critical need for certainty in the business sector. “Certainty will ensure they continue to spend, make the necessary investments, employ additional staff, and boost our economy,” she said.

Another significant development for the region is the resumption of international flights, which Watson believes will have a substantial positive impact on the local economy. The return of airlines like China Southern Airlines, United Airlines, and Cathay Pacific to Christchurch is a major boost. “It’s really pleasing,” Watson commented, adding that this has led to an increase in tourism, more activity in the central city, and benefits for local hotels, bars, restaurants, and transport operators.

Furthermore, these flights provide crucial freight capacity for the region’s exporters, especially in the busy period leading up to the Chinese New Year. “Having the additional freight capacity is really, really important.”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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