Air New Zealand’s Dreamliners made quite a splash operating some domestic sectors between Auckland and Christchurch recently. The good news is that they are coming back. Across July, Air New Zealand’s flagship aircraft will operate 23 return services between Auckland and Christchurch.
Air New Zealand taken by surprise
The timing coincides with the July school holidays. The demand for its services has surprised Air New Zealand. Over July and August, the airline had planned to be running around 50% of its normal capacity. But after an extended period of lockdown, Kiwis seem keen to get on the move and to stretch their legs.
As demand picks up, Air New Zealand was already operating around seven return flights a day on the busy trunk route. Usually, the airline deploys A320s and A321s on its key domestic sectors. But between July 1 and July 19, some of the flights on the Auckland and Christchurch sector will be operated by a Boeing 787-9.
23 Dreamliner flights down to Christchurch
Heading down to Christchurch, the 787-9 flights are operating every day over these 19 days except Wednesday, July 8, and Wednesday, July 15. On Sundays and Mondays (as well as Thursday, July 16), there is only one daily Dreamliner flight operating. That’s NZ595 that departs Auckland at 07:30 and arrives into Christchurch at 08:55. There is also only one Dreamliner flight down to Christchurch on Fridays. But the Friday flight, NZ597, pushes back at 13:30 for a 14:55 arrival into Christchurch.
On the remaining days, that is, Saturdays, Tuesdays, and two of the three Thursdays, there are two 787-9 flights to Christchurch. In addition to the 07:30 departure, NZ591 leaves Auckland at 14:05 and arrives at Christchurch at 15:30.
Back to Auckland on the 787-9
Out of Christchurch, the operating sequence is much the same with later departure times. There are no Dreamliner flights on either Wednesday, July 8 and Wednesday, July 15. There is a single northbound 787-9 on Wednesday, July 1, Fridays, Sundays, and Mondays. On Thursdays and Saturdays, there are double dailies. Over the two Tuesdays, there are two Dreamliner flights on July 7 and one flight on July 14.
Confused? Okay, let’s break it down. On Thursday mornings, Saturday mornings, Sunday mornings, Monday mornings, there is a 10:30 Dreamliner departure from Christchurch, NZ596. This flight will also operate on Wednesday, July 1, and Tuesday, July 7.
On Fridays, there will be just one 787-9 departure from Christchurch. That’s NZ584, which pushes back at 16:30 and gets into Auckland at 17:55.
In addition to the 10:30 departure on Thursdays, there is also a late afternoon Dreamliner service to Auckland. On July 2, this will operate as NZ582, departing Christchurch at 17:00. However, on the two remaining Thursdays, the flight will leave ten minutes earlier, at 16:50. This is also marketed as NZ592.
This 16:50 flight will also run on Saturdays. By deploying the 787-9 onto the route, Air New Zealand is adding some 10,000 seats onto the sector.
Air New Zealand pumping up capacity on other routes
In addition to the extra seats in and out of Christchurch, Air New Zealand is adding capacity onto its other main domestic trunk routes. These routes include Auckland-Wellington and Wellington-Christchurch. They are doing this by adding some extra services and upsizing A320 aircraft to slightly larger A321s.
What’s taken Air New Zealand by surprise is the surge in demand for services to Queenstown. There is now more capacity on the Auckland – Queenstown sector this July than there was last July. Air New Zealand is delighted and is busy adding flights and bigger aircraft onto the sector.
As one of Air New Zealand’s bosses notes, the swift return of demand is a win the airline, local tourism, and the people and businesses those industries fuel.