Air New Zealand is boosting its frequencies to several of its long-haul Pacific rim destinations. The Auckland-based airline is also resuming a route from Christchurch. But it’s not passenger demand driving the changes – demand killing border closures and travel restrictions remain in place. Instead, it’s all about freight.
Improved long-haul frequencies and a resuming route from Christchurch
First reported in New Zealand news site Stuff, Air New Zealand is increasing its flights between Auckland (AKL) and San Francisco (SFO), Vancouver (YVR), Honolulu (HNL), and Singapore (SIN) later this year. Air New Zealand is also resuming a new route between Christchurch (CHC) and Singapore.
Air New Zealand has maintained a scaled-back long-haul timetable throughout the travel downturn. The airline temporarily cut destinations like Vancouver and Houston, and others, like London, were axed permanently. Across the remaining destinations, long-haul passenger numbers have been small.
Air New Zealand’s investor update for May shows the airline’s long-haul flights carried just 4,000 passengers that month. Three-quarters of those passengers traveled between New Zealand and North America.
Except for arrivals from a few Australian states, New Zealand only allows its citizens and permanent residents to enter the country. Almost every person who arrives in New Zealand other than from a quarantine-free travel zone must stay in managed isolation for at least 14 days.
“As much as we wish the addition of the long-haul flights to our schedule meant the reopening of the borders, unfortunately, it does not,” Air New Zealand’s Scott Carr told Stuff.
New flights are all about freight
These new Air New Zealand flights are all about freight. The New Zealand Government recently extended its International Airfreight Capacity scheme. That scheme provides airlines with subsidies to keep critical air freight routes open.
After taking a hit early in the travel downturn, airfreight capacity is now back near pre-downturn levels in New Zealand. This latest uptick in Air New Zealand’s long-haul frequencies will occur in the last quarter of the year.
Flights between Auckland and Los Angeles will increase to three times a week. San Francisco will see three Air New Zealand flights each week. NZ024 will take off for Vancouver three times a week. Honolulu will also host three Air New Zealand flights a week.
Christchurch – Singapore service starts November 30
By November, Singapore will see a daily 787-9 Air New Zealand service from Auckland. Air New Zealand’s resuming Christchurch – Singapore flights will not start until the end of November. But thereafter, a Dreamliner will wing its way between the two cities five times a week. While all these flights are subsidized by the New Zealand Government to fly freight, Air New Zealand will happily welcome fare-paying passengers onboard should the passengers be cleared to fly.
“It also provides some certainty for Kiwis who are wanting to return home after October 31,” says Carr.
Other operating long-haul Air New Zealand services remain unchanged. Flights between Auckland and Shanghai will continue to operate daily. Flights between Auckland and Hong Kong, Taipei, and Tokyo will continue to operate once a week. Seoul sees just one Air New Zealand flight a month. In addition to these flights, which welcome passengers onboard, Air New Zealand continues to operate a slew of cargo-only flights around the Pacific rim.