AirNZ Sets Launch Date for Non-Stop Flights to New York

Kiwis have been waiting and now Air New Zealand has finally announced a new start date for its Auckland to New York flights.

The first ever non-stop service between New Zealand and New York will depart on September 17, landing at John F. Kennedy Airport.

The flights, which will be numbered NZ1 and NZ2, will be among the longest in the world, taking just over 16 hours to New York and 17-and-a-half hours for the return journey. Air New Zealand will operate the route three times a week, year-round, using the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

Details of the service were first revealed in late 2019, with the maiden voyage supposed to take off on October 29, 2020. In early 2020, the airline had been selling tickets for as little as $847 one-way from Auckland to New York. The launch was postponed indefinitely, however, due to the pandemic, with much of Air New Zealand’s international fleet grounded in the Californian desert.

Air New Zealand chief executive officer Greg Foran said with the New Zealand border reopening on May 2 to tourists from visa-waiver countries, this was the moment they had been waiting for.

“New York is an iconic yet familiar city, a bucket list item. And now for the first time, Kiwis can visit the city of all cities with a non-stop flight,” he said.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said the new direct air link was perfectly timed to capitalise on pent-up demand from North American travellers as borders reopen.

Pre-Covid, the US was New Zealand's third-largest source of visitors, with about 370,000 Americans visiting in 2019 and contributing more than $1.53 billion to the economy. The direct route to Auckland removed barriers like time-consuming stopovers for travellers from the East Coast, Nash said.

“In a world still battling Covid-19, travellers will be discerning about where they go,” he said.

“Our high rates of vaccination, alongside our reputation as a beautiful place to visit, will be an asset in the North American market.”