The airline is also in final negotiations to buy a 14th new aircraft.
Air New Zealand’s CEO Greg Foran made the announcement at TRENZ, New Zealand’s largest international tourism trade event – similar to the Australian Tourism Exchange – which is taking place this week at New Zealand’s first next-generation convention centre Te Pae Christchurch.
Foran also provided a capacity update for the airline, confirming that domestic capacity is back up at pre-COVID levels, while international capacity is at 91 per cent of pre-COVID levels.
Air New Zealand’s capacity to Asia is already at 117 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, while seats to North America are getting close to a full recovery, as are Tasman and Pacific Island routes.
Foran also made special mention of Air New Zealand’s ultra long-haul flight between Auckland and New York which launched in the third quarter of 2022.
“Our New York route is special, and a valuable and promising market for New Zealand. The route has demonstrated strong demand since its launch in September and presents untapped potential for us to attract high-value customers and showcase the best of what our country has to offer,” he said.
The airline is also investing $30 million in marketing New Zealand as a destination in overseas markets.
Speaking at TRENZ, Foran also shed light on what it took to get back in the air once New Zealand’s borders reopened last year.
“Within 14 days of the full border reopening, we relaunched 16 routes. In September we landed in New York for the first time and by October we were back flying to 29 international destinations – the last being Chicago. We’re now at 30, having returned to Bali in March.
“We’ve rehired 3,000 staff, bought back our seven 777s, invested in new turboprops and jets to add more seats on the domestic network.
“Our aim has been to get every available seat safely in the air, even if it has stretched us operationally. We have not held anything back.
“Despite all of this, demand still exceeded our expectations – and we acknowledge we didn’t get it right every time.”
Foran also said “being brilliant at the basics” was a focus for the airline.
Skynest, Air New Zealand’s economy sleeping pods, also got a mention at TRENZ, with a real life experience available at the event. The bunk beds will debut on long-haul flights between New Zealand and New York and Chicago from September next year and cost between $400 and $600 for a four-hour session.