After four years of planning, Air New Zealand has just completed its first direct, non-stop flight from Aukland to New York after landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport this past weekend. The flight marks the return of ultra-long-haul route expansions, a growing trend among global airlines in the late-2010s only to be shelved as the pandemic brought international travel to a standstill.
Clocking in at 16 hours and 36 minutes, the route is now fourth on the list of the world’s longest flights taking slightly less than the number one spot, Singapore to New York, which takes nearly 19 hours. The flight was serviced by Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, and the NZ2 traversed more than 8,800 miles in its inaugural journey. The new route is expected to bring in $65 million annually on a limited schedule of three flights per week and was originally announced in April as part of Air NZ’s partnership with US-based United Airlines.
Onboard the initial flight was New Zealand’s Minister of Tourism, Hon Stuart Nash, Chair of Air New Zealand Dame Therese Walsh, and Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran, as well as key tourism and travel partners. During the post-flight press conference, Foran said:
“As one of the world’s greatest cities, Air New Zealand is proud to add the Big Apple to its list of 29 international destinations. By adding greater access to the East Coast of the US, we’re connecting our North American customers to the possibilities of 20 destinations within New Zealand as well as the Pacific and Australia, all within easy reach.”
The new route has been given the flight numbers NZ2 for Auckland to New York and NZ1 for New York to Auckland. Per Foran, these numbers are traditionally reserved for an airline’s flagship route. The return flight will depart from New York at 9:55 pm (local time) and is expected to take 17 hours and 35 minutes due to the difference in jet streams. There is a capacity for 275 passengers tended by 17 crew on board, consisting of 13 cabin crew and four pilots working in shifts. The distance between Auckland and New York is 8,815 miles (14,185 km), and economy ticket prices start at around $1,050.