Close to 12 months since Air New Zealand’s inaugural non-stop flight from Auckland to New York was set to take wing in October 2020 – an endeavor immediately scuppered by the worldwide spread of Covid-19 – the Kiwi carrier has continued anticipating the almost 18-hour journey.
Gladly bearing the flagship flight numbers of NZ1/NZ2, the marathon 14,200km trip was to become not only AirNZ’s longest route yet among the longest commercial flights in the world, just barely more limited than Qantas’ Perth-London service.
What’s more, similar to that long-hopping ‘kangaroo route’, the ‘Kiwi route’ between Auckland and New York was to be flown by a Boeing 787-9 with a ‘premium-heavy’ configuration which slanted the balance towards business and premium economy seating to deliver higher revenue with a lower overall headcount.
Be that as it may, Air New Zealand hasn’t abandoned its direct New York flights – and, like Qantas, considers the non-stop flight will have a lot of post-pandemic appeal by staying away from visits and keeping travelers cased in the Dreamliner’s safe, clean and controlled environment.
“We absolutely will be getting back to direct flights to New York,” AirNZ CEO Greg Foran insists.
“We see North America as being critical to our international business and are very keen to get that operating as soon as we can,” Foran tells The Australian. “We think that will generate some pretty good demand.”
Foran says his group is now beginning to “pull together all the flight plans, details, weights and weather conditions”, which could demonstrate a 2022 departure for the globe-striding Auckland-New York service.
Strong demand for non-stop flights
Qantas additionally means to return to its stopped plans for Project Sunrise, which was to see a fleet of ultra-long-range Airbus A350-1000 jets spearing out from Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane to the likes of New York, London, Paris, and Frankfurt.
“At the end of 2021 we can revisit (Project Sunrise) and look at what’s the appropriate time” to set things back in motion, Joyce remarked earlier this year.
“People in the post-Covid world will want to fly direct” rather than make stopovers, “which I think makes the Project Sunrise business case even better than it was pre-Covid.”
“This is one of the big things that will change in the next decade, and allow us to have a suitable competitive advantage that nobody else is probably going to introduce.”
Qantas has effectively affirmed that Sydney will be the launch city for the first Project Sunrise flights “once international travel recovers and this investment goes ahead.”
As recently detailed, Foran’s plan to direct Air New Zealand back into financially clear skies will see the entirety of its Boeing 777-300ER planes retired throughout the coming years, with the advanced fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner becoming the airline’s sole long-range aircraft.
The “all-787 fleet” will incorporate the Boeing 787-10 starting in 2025, which will likewise see the debut of Air New Zealand’s all-new Business Premier business class alongside a ‘business plus’ section in the front row.