Air New Zealand reboots plans for non-stop New York flights

The near-18 hour marathon flight could resume in 2022 as airlines see increased post-Covid appeal for skipping stopovers.

By David Flynn, August 30 2021
Air New Zealand reboots plans for non-stop New York flights

Almost a year since Air New Zealand's inaugural non-stop flight from Auckland to New York was set to take wing in October 2020 – an undertaking quickly scuppered by the worldwide spread of Covid-19 – the Kiwi carrier has resumed planning for the near-18 hour journey.

Proudly bearing the flagship flight numbers of NZ1/NZ2, the marathon 14,200km trek was to become not only AirNZ's longest route but among the longest commercial flights in the world, just marginally shorter than Qantas' Perth-London service.

And like 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 skewed the balance towards business and premium economy seating to deliver higher revenue with a lower overall headcount.

But Air New Zealand hasn't given up on its direct New York flights – and, like Qantas, considers the non-stop flight will have plenty of post-pandemic appeal by avoiding stopovers and keeping passengers cocooned 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 team is already starting to "pull together all the flight plans, details, weights and weather conditions", which could indicate a 2022 departure for the globe-striding Auckland-New York service.

Strong demand for non-stop flights

Qantas also intends to revisit its paused 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 already confirmed that Sydney will be the launch city for the first Project Sunrise flights "once international travel recovers and this investment goes ahead."

As previously reported, Foran's plan to steer Air New Zealand back into financially clear skies will see all of its Boeing 777-300ER jets retired over the coming years, with the advanced fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner becoming the airline's sole long-range aircraft.

The "all-787 fleet" will include the Boeing 787-10 as of 2025, which will also will see the debut of Air New Zealand's all-new Business Premier business class along with a 'business plus' section in the front row.

Read more: Air New Zealand to retire Boeing 777-300s, move to all-787 fleet

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 May 2019

Total posts 32

hi David, how do you see this feasibly  happening when the Max Range quoted by Boeing of a 787-9 is 13,950 ks?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 May 2019

Total posts 32

Oops David, I can see this has changed to 14,140 in typical config. So yes, it is possible. Cheers.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 318

Also bear in mind that Auckland-New York is a bit shorter than Perth-London, both of which are flown by a Boeing 787-9, so if Qantas can do it, Air New Zealand can too. Weather patterns and the flight path are important factors, Qantas has discovered it can do these non-stop flights even faster than it had predicted, obviously a bit of a built-in margin there. Also both airlines use 787-9s with a lower seat count than most airlines, but with more 'premium' seats.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Feb 2017

Total posts 12

If air nz update their business class seats, then im in! Until then, will ill stick with the lax stop with qantas

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 84

Agreed. Historically their business class seats have always been their Achilles' heel. And the 'latest' offering on the 787 is no exception. Good enough for trans-Tasman flights or intercontinentals over to Perth,  but on long hauls the lack of privacy and storage is just galling. I love NZ, the service I find is fantastic in business class. But I'd never do a long haul with them, for sure.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 431

Considering the NZ government just reconfirmed their elimination strategy, I wonder what is the likely pax traffic from the US? 

Granted NZ hand a few nice tourist spots but the USA had more of a grander scale, the quarantine rule that is likely to exist (and I am talking about 14 days not isolate until your arrival tests is negative), I don’t have much hope of a decent revival of Air NZ business unless, the govt makes a 

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 431

Significant shift in strategy/policy at some vaccination threshold


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