Executive Traveller exclusive
Direct flights to Chicago and Houston will follow the September launch of Air New Zealand’s non-stop marathon between Auckland and New York as the Kiwi carrier works to re-establish its US presence.
Paul McLean, General Manager Australia for Air New Zealand, tells Executive Traveller both routes – which were suspended in March 2020 after the outbreak of Covid-19 – will return “towards Q4... we’ve always considered the US a key market.”
McLean agrees with other airlines – most notably Qantas – that post-pandemic travellers could feel more comfortable with non-stop flights, especially when there’s the added convenience of avoiding chaotic stop-overs at the likes of LAX.
“People are looking for some more direct routes,” McLean says, adding that Air New Zealand’s play for the Australian market is also “about choice for the customer, giving them an alternative to an Australian brand, such as Qantas.”
While Qantas has restarted its own direct flights between Sydney and Dallas / Fort Worth, the promised Brisbane-Chicago service is now looking more like a 2023 proposition.
Speaking with Executive Traveller in December 2021, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the route “is still a huge opportunity” for the airline.
“But there is a little bit of movement over the next year or so before we get back to business as normal, and those routes are all generated by business traffic, so we hope to establish them as business traffic comes back.”
And despite what he promises as “a seamless connection” at Auckland Airport while waiting for the NY- or Sydney-bound flight, McLean believes many travellers will happily break the long journey with a stop in Auckland, with the harbour city well-known for its hotel and dining scenes, not to mention the wine lover’s island of Waiheke on its doorstep.
And with both Chicago and Houston being hubs for fellow Star Alliance member United Airlines, the door is open for connecting flights to scores of other destinations across the Americas.