Future flying: Air New Zealand orders the ALIA electric jet for regional hops

by James Wilkinson

Air New Zealand has revealed the ALIA will be the airline’s first purchase of a next generation aircraft in its ‘Mission Next Gen Aircraft’ programme.

Designed by electric aerospace company BETA Technologies, the battery-powered all-electric aircraft is expected to join Air New Zealand’s fleet in 2026.

Air New Zealand is purchasing the conventional take-off and landing version of the ALIA and the announcement follows an 18-month period of evaluation and diligence by Air New Zealand.

Through the airline’s Mission Next Gen Aircraft programme, it sought and received ideas and insights from 30 organisations, selecting four partners to work closely with on its goal of launching commercial flights using next generation aircraft in 2026. BETA’s ALIA is the first commercial order in the programme.

Air New Zealand will initially operate the aircraft as a cargo only service in partnership with New Zealand Post, on a route being selected through an expressions of interest (EOI) process with airports across Aotearoa.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Greg Foran, said the purchase cements Air New Zealand’s commitment to flying lower-emissions aircraft in New Zealand.

“This is a small but important step in a much larger journey for Air New Zealand,” he said. “There is a lot of work ahead of us, but we are incredibly committed, and this purchase marks a new chapter for the airline.

“Decarbonising aviation isn’t easy, and we have a lot of work to do. We need to accelerate the pace of change in the technology, infrastructure, operations and regulation.

“While this aircraft will add to, not replace our existing fleet, it is a catalyst for that change. By flying the ALIA, we hope to advance our knowledge and the transformation needed in the aviation system in Aotearoa for us to fly larger, fleet replacing, next generation aircraft from 2030.”

BETA Chief Executive Officer Kyle Clark said he applauds Air New Zealand’s approach to decarbonising aviation.

“Air New Zealand is hyper focused on bringing technologies to scale as quickly as possible, both to meet its own ambitions to decarbonise and to change the broader aviation landscape,” he said.

“Over the past year plus of partnership, collaboration, and diligence, we’ve seen Air New Zealand’s forward-thinking, yet pragmatic and methodical approach to innovation.

“We are gratified by the airline’s confidence in our technology as a solution that will meet their operational needs and look forward to continuing to work hand-in-hand as we bring the ALIA to market for 2026.”