Flights to nowhere are a dime a dozen these days. But most flights to nowhere have a scenic bent to them. Air New Zealand is going something a little bit different. They are operating a one-off on November 14, but instead of encouraging passengers to gaze out the window, Air New Zealand wants eyes focused on the in-flight entertainment screens.
A chance to get up close and personal
The flight onboard an A321neo will premiere a documentary by filmmaker Julia Parnell called SIX60: Till the Lights Go Out.
SIX60 are one of New Zealand’s biggest bands. In addition to the screening the premiere, the five (male) members of the band will be onboard. Now, Air New Zealand’s A321neos are notoriously squeezy. Depending on your point of view and interests, this could be either the best or worst flight ever.
The boys (Eli, Chris, Marlon, Ji, and Matiu) will have to mix it with the hoi polloi, though probably in the Space+Seats (rows 2-9). But if you’re keen to fight over the armrest with one of them, you’ve missed the boat. The flight sold out within hours.
Technically, this isn’t a flight to nowhere; it’s a flight to Dunedin. That’s where the band comes from. Plus, Air New Zealand is trying to boost domestic travel.
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An effort to boost tourism in New Zealand
The plane is going down and back in a day, but tickets got sold on a one-way basis because the idea is for people to stay a couple of nights down the bottom of the South Island, spend some money, and generally have a good time short of getting arrested.
“Because the package is built around a one-way ticket to Dunedin, it’s also a way of supporting tourism to the city and the region. We hope most passengers will consider staying a night or two or exploring the region further once they get there,” says Jeremy O’Brien, brand and strategy manager at Air New Zealand.
While New Zealand’s international borders remain closed to most, domestic travel in New Zealand had bounced back nicely over the recent southern hemisphere winter. After suspending services and cutting frequencies, Air New Zealand was back flying on all its domestic routes by the end of June.
Demand on some routes was so strong the airline deployed Dreamliners to add extra capacity.
After a surge, domestic travel on Air New Zealand stalled
But a lockdown in Auckland in mid-August put the brakes on that. By the end of August, domestic passenger numbers were down 51% compared to the previous month.
It has also since emerged that the airline has begun using a US$593 million line of credit provided by the New Zealand Government. There are reports the airline has drawn out $48 million so far.
There’s no real end in sight regarding New Zealand’s international border closures. Air New Zealand has maintained a slimmed-down international network. But it’s proved hard work and not bringing much financial joy to the airline.
For the foreseeable future, domestic flying is the name of the game for Air New Zealand. Rolling out promotional exercises like the SIX60 flight in November (tagged as NZ660, naturally) is one way to re-engage with their customer base. But not every flight can have an angle like this. The challenge for Air New Zealand is to fill more than one flight.