Air New Zealand readies for the arrival of more next-gen jets as demand soars

by James Wilkinson

Air New Zealand is gearing up for the arrival of 13 new next-generation Boeing and Airbus jets over the coming five years as the carrier continues to see demand soar across the network.

Over the coming five years, Air New Zealand will take delivery of eight new 787-9 Dreamliners and five Airbus A320neo aircraft, alongside the retrofitting of the fleet with the latest inflight product in a move worth NZ$3.5 billion.

In addition, the carrier is also in final negotiations to secure another Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which would add 3,000 more seats per week to the airline’s international network.

Speaking at TRENZ 2023 this week, Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran said the carrier is making a significant investment in its fleet, capacity and marketing to improve the flying experience for customers and support New Zealand’s tourism industry.

He said the carrier will be flying 4.5 million seats on 39 international routes, between March and October this year, alongside significant investments in its international fleet, which “send a clear message that the airline is committed to grow and support New Zealand tourism all year round”.

“Our fleet investment, capacity update, and marketing spend represent a significant commitment to New Zealand’s tourism industry,” he said.

“By investing in new and retrofitted aircraft, adding more seats to our international routes, and increasing our marketing presence in key markets, we’re making it even easier for visitors to tick New Zealand off their bucket lists.”

The investment includes $3.5 billion in the purchase of eight new 787-9 Dreamliners and five Airbus A320neo aircraft to add more seats on the Tasman and Pacific Island services.

This includes the interior refurbishment of its 14 Boeing 787 aircraft, including the airline’s new Business Premier Luxe and refreshed cabins and work is expected to start next year.

Foran said the airline is also in final negotiations to secure another Boeing 777-300ER, which could add 3,000 more seats per week to the airline’s international network. This would bring the total 777-300 fleet to eight.

“We’re proud to be making this investment in our fleet and in the future of air travel,” he said. “Investing in new and retrofitted aircraft will help us attract even more premium leisure customers from the Pacific Rim to New Zealand, boosting the growth of our tourism industry.

“It’s a significant investment, reflecting our commitment to delivering the best flying experience for our customers in the short and long term.

“Across our international network, capacity is back to about 91 percent of pre-Covid and bookings are steady,” he said.

Foran said Air New Zealand’s North America network is close to pre-Covid levels, with more seats from Houston, San Francisco, and Vancouver.

“Our New York route is special, and a valuable and promising market for New Zealand,” he said. “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.”

Later this year, the airline’s alliance partner, United Airlines, will launch new routes from San Francisco-Christchurch and Los Angeles-Auckland, further growing North America capacity.

Foran said Air New Zealand’s capacity on its Asia network is at 117 percent of pre-Covid levels, with Singapore remaining a key hub, particularly for connecting to India and Europe.

Demand out of China is slowly rebuilding, and the airline’s alliance partner, Air China, has restarted its Beijing-Auckland route.

Capacity on Air New Zealand’s Tasman and Pacific Island network is also nearing pre-Covid levels, Foran said.

He said the airline’s domestic network is back to pre-Covid levels and Air New Zealand has added 5,000 seats a week to Christchurch, connecting the Garden City more often to Hamilton, Napier, and Nelson, and added 6,000 seats on regional flights out of Auckland and to main centres.

To support its commitment to New Zealand tourism, Air New Zealand is investing $30 million in marketing campaigns this financial year in key markets to target high-quality visitors.

The airline is also continuing to rebuild its offshore Sales and Marketing teams and has been steadily elevating its brand in key offshore markets.

“We know it’s not just about bringing overseas visitors to New Zealand but also giving them plenty of options to explore around Aotearoa New Zealand,” he said.

“Our significant capacity increases across our international and domestic network, coupled with our marketing investment, will help to showcase New Zealand to the world and attract more quality visitors to our shores.”