Air New Zealand has announced its plans to launch a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft to be operated between Auckland and Houston from December 2017. The Auckland-Houston route is being presently served by a Boeing 777-200 aircraft.
Christopher Luxon, CEO of Air New Zealand, said, “The upgrade on Auckland-Houston route from existing Boeing 777-200 to a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is going to prove advantageous to the travelers as they will be offered with more premium economy and business class seats. The upgrade also shows the increasing travel demand from people in the eastern half of the United States looking forward to visit New Zealand.”
The timing in the change of Boeing 777-200 to a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will also be coinciding with the airline’s increase in seasonal frequencies on Auckland-Houston route from five times per week to a daily service. Media reports have also said that there has been 23 percent y-o-y increase in American travelers visiting New Zealand between April 2016 and March 2017. Last year the number of arrivals from the United States to New Zealand totaled 313,000. Also, the United States is presently the third-largest contributor of visitors to New Zealand, after Australia and China.
According to the reports, increased travel demand from U.S. visitors to New Zealand has played a significant role in the 23 percent jump. It may be noted that major U.S. carriers such as United Airlines and American Airlines entered the New Zealand market. United Airlines launched flights from San Francisco to Auckland last summer, while American Airlines also introduced new flights between Los Angeles and Auckland. Apart from these, even Hawaiian Airlines is also providing flights services between Honolulu and Auckland.
Earlier, Air New Zealand and United Airlines had signed joint venture agreement in March 2016. The new pact allowed both the airlines to effectively coordinate on scheduling flights, particularly on Houston route. This also provided New Zealand travelers faster connectivity from the eastern half of the United States in comparison to the U.S. West Coast cities presently serving Auckland.