Air New Zealand is to make its first-ever flight to the Big Apple on September 17 as travel restrictions ease and ultra long-haul links with the USA make a post-pandemic return.
The airline will operate its flagship Auckland-New York route three times a week throughout the year It’s fleet of 14 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners will ply non-stop flights of between 16 and 17 hours. The news comes as New Zealand re-opens its borders on May 2 to COVID-19 vaccinated travellers from visa-waiver countries including US, UK, Germany, Canada, Japan and Singapore.
Taking the traditional flagship route numbers of 1 and 2, inaugural flight NZ2 will leave Auckland at 16.00hrs local time and arrive at John F Kennedy Airport’s Terminal 1 at 16.15hrs US time.
Scheduled services follow from September 19 on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays with NZ2’s outgoing flight departing at 19.40 for arrival at 19.55 in the city that never sleeps. NZ1 flights will return from New York at 21.55 and arrive at 0.730hrs – and an added two calendar days (33hrs 35mins) as the aircraft crosses the International Date Line.
Air New Zealand chief executive officer Greg Foran said: “The US has always been a key market for us, and this new route cements our commitment to developing growing tourism opportunities between the two countries. In the six years leading up to COVID, the US visitor numbers to New Zealand doubled and looking at the average spend in New Zealand by US tourists, we estimate that this new route would contribute an additional $65M per year into the local economy.”
The carrier, which celebrated it's 80th anniversary two years ago, said that partnerships with United Airlines facilitated connections to domestic destinations across the US, Canada and the UK with direct flights from New York to Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich, Vienna, Brussels, Helsinki, Copenhagen and Stockholm. Air New Zealand serves seven destinations in North America: Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angles, San Francisco, Vancouver – and in six months – New York.