Air New Zealand To Launch ‘Flagship’ Auckland-New York JFK Route

New Zealand will reopen to US citizens in May.

Credit: Rob Finlayson

Air New Zealand will launch one of the world’s longest routes in September when it commences service between Auckland (AKL) and New York Kennedy (JFK).

The AKL-JFK route will be operated 3X-weekly with a Boeing 787-9 aircraft. The leg from JFK to AKL has a listed flight time of 17 hr. 35 min., about an hour shorter than Singapore Airlines’ JFK-Singapore (SIN) leg that is considered the longest flight in the world. The AKL-JFK leg will have a flight time of around 16 hr.

The Star Alliance member had been scheduled to launch service between AKL and New York Newark (EWR) from Oct. 29, 2020, but the route was scrapped because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The AKL-EWR service was also supposed to be flown 3X-weekly, also with a 787-9.

Air New Zealand is slowly restarting its long-haul network, which was grounded by the pandemic. The carrier anticipates operating just 15-20% of 2019 long-haul capacity in the upcoming southern hemisphere winter season.

Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran noted New Zealand will reopen to US passport holders from May 2. "The US has always been a key market for us, and this new [AKL-JFK] route cements our commitment to growing opportunities for tourism between the two countries,” he said. “In the six years leading up to COVID, the US visitor numbers to New Zealand doubled, so we expect our much-awaited nonstop service to be incredibly strong year-round."

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Foran said flights between AKL and JFK will be designated NZ1 and NZ2. "Traditionally, flight numbers 1 and 2 are used for an airline's flagship route. And that's what New York will be–our flagship route,” he commented. “We've worked incredibly hard over the past few years to make this ultra-long-haul service a reality.”

The 787-9 operating the AKL-JFK route will be configured with 27 business-class seats, 33 premium-economy seats and 215 economy seats.

"We know almost three-quarters of visitors from the US travel beyond New Zealand's main tourist centers, so once customers arrive in Auckland, we have connections to 20 different regions around the country, all within 2 hr.,” Foran said.