A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed to link one of the largest un-serviced city pairs in Australasia, with the intention of benefitting business, freight and tourism of both cities.
Christchurch Airport CEO Jim Boult says the initiative has been under discussion between the two airports for three or four months.
"Both airports have been keen to cement a formal agreement to investigate and encourage an airline to take up the route," says Mr Boult.
"The recent new Open Skies policy over Christchurch until mid-2017 means any carrier can consider this opportunity, depending on its own air service agreements with Australia.
"The support package we'll offer the first airline to serve the route is valued at $7.5m NZD, depending on the exchange rate at the time. It's based on a daily service, as well as other assumptions which we'll work our way through with the airline which takes up the opportunity."
The MoU allows both airports to jointly pursue stakeholder engagement and encourage an airline to start flying the route.
In the past year, approximately 38,910 people travelled between the South Island and South Australia. Research shows considerably more would travel between both points if they could fly direct, which supports the argument for a new service. This suggests a direct daily service would have considerable uptake and could be worth as much as $30m NZD ($23.75m AUD) to the regional and South Island economy.
Adelaide Airport Ltd Managing Director Mark Young says a direct air service is very appealing. He says there are many common attributes between the two cities, not least a sister city relationship of more than 40 years.
"A direct air service to Christchurch Airport will definitely be an attractive offer to South Australians. They know Christchurch is on the doorstep of a winter playground, as well as beaches and outdoor adventures in the summer," Mr Young says.
"The opportunity also exists for New Zealanders to experience Adelaide for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, great wineries, eco-tourism and gateway to the Outback."