Air New Zealand finally launched a flight that has been put off for nearly two years.
During those bad early days of the pandemic, restrictions and stay-at-home orders made it difficult to drive a few hours to the next town over. Flying for 16 hours might as well have been a trip to the moon.
With airlines suspending flights and most countries closing borders to non-citizens, air travel effectively ground to a halt throughout 2020. According to United Nation’s air transportation agency, air traffic in April fell by 92% from 2019 levels and 60% in all of 2020.
Over 400,000 airline workers around the world were also either let go or placed on indefinite furlough by the start of 2021.
Such a complete shutdown disrupted not only individual plans to visit Europe over the summer but also routes that some airlines have been planning to launch for years.
Direct To Auckland, Please
Air New Zealand (ANZFF) – Get Air New Zealand Report, which has been taking people in and out of the island nation since 1940, just launched its first flight between Auckland and New York City.
The flight will bring the number of U.S. destinations where the airline flies to seven. It was originally scheduled to take off in October 2020 but was put off for nearly two years as New Zealand was known for having one of the strictest pandemic responses in the world.
The country only reopened to international tourists in July 2022 or more than a year-and-a-half after most countries in Europe and North America did so.
The Auckland-JFK route is also staggering for its length — 17.5 hours between NYC and Auckland and, due to the direction of winds, 16 hours in the opposite direction.
While Air New Zealand already had nonstop routes between West Coast cities like San Francisco and Vancouver, this is the airline’s first nonstop flight to the East of the United States.
“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,” Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran said in a statement. “[…] This is terrific for our customers.”
The flight will run three times a week on a 787-9 Dreamliner and start at $1,400 for economy and $8,500 for business class.
The Future and Ultra Long-Haul Flights
The inaugural flight touched down at JFK on Sept. 17 and carried Foran, as well as New Zealand’s Minister of Tourism Stuart Nash.
As first reported by CNN, there was a small snag that is very reflective of current airport chaos — some found that their baggage had not made it back with them on the return flight.
With airlines struggling to meet the sky-high demand that came as many finally take trips put off for years due to the pandemic, such scenarios have been extremely common throughout the world over the last six months.
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In July, Delta (DAL) – Get Delta Air Lines Inc. Report flew an Airbus A330-200 from London to Detroit with no passengers but over 1,000 pieces of luggage that were stranded due to not having enough baggage handlers at various airports across Europe.
“Unfortunately given additional fuel requirements due to adverse weather, some customer bags were unable to be loaded in New York and we are getting them to New Zealand as soon as possible,” Air New Zealand COO Alex Marren told CNN.
The Auckland-JFK flight is set to become Air New Zealand’s flagship route. The term refers to the route taken on the airline’s biggest plane and with the highest level of business class service.
Air New Zealand is also getting ready to launch a flight from Auckland to Chicago at the end of October.
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This story was originally published September 19, 2022 1:17 PM.
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