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Air New Zealand Relaunches International Routes to Meet Travel Demand
Air New Zealand has announced the recommencement of 14 international routes over a 16-day period in July. According to the New Zealand Herald, the airline will relaunch services from Auckland to destinations such as Tahiti, Honolulu and Houston that have not seen service for just over 800 days.
“Come July, we will double our services across the Tasman and restart popular direct services like the Sunshine Coast, Hobart and Adelaide,” Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said, referencing the airline’s significant travel market in Australia. “By July 9 we will be back to all nine Australian ports which is an important milestone for us.”
New Zealand initially had a zero Covid policy and was one of the most ‘locked-down’ countries to visitors and their own citizens for over two years. Those within the country were subjected to limited lockdowns compared to other countries, but residents were disconnected from the world and return from international travel was subject to limited hotel quarantine spaces. ‘Travel bubbles’ with Australia were attempted at different times but withdrawn when Covid cases began to rise.
Radio New Zealand reported that Air New Zealand’s domestic routes would be back to 100 percent pre-Covid-19 capacity; through the Tasman and the Pacific Islands, around 75 percent of pre-Covid-19 levels; the rest of the international routes at about 50 percent of pre-Covid-19.
Foran predicts that “By the time we get to the end of the year, domestic, we would expect to be completely back to pre-Covid so maybe even a little bit better than 100 percent and the rest of the world sitting at around 75 percent.”
The airline will return a number of Boeing 777-300 aircraft back into service, in response to this significant increase in international capacity. The aircraft began service for the airline in 2011 and were originally due to be phased out by 2027 as the airline utilizes more Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft.
Foran acknowledged some of the challenges the airline was facing by increasing capacity with fuel costs being of concern. “Over the last few months, we’ve seen effectively a doubling in price and I’ve referred to the fact that getting to Los Angeles, it used to cost us just over US$40,000 to fill up a Dreamliner and now it’s about US$96,000, so that’s seen the price of tickets on the average increase around 20 plus percent,” he told Radio New Zealand.
The airline is also actively recruiting more airport staff to match the operational increases after over 4000 workers were removed from the workforce due to the Covid pandemic.
Radio New Zealand cited an internal Air New Zealand communication to staff offering the following incentives: “Refer a friend or family member and once they’re successfully onboard, you will both receive 400 New Zealand Dollars ($250) gross. As an additional thank you, once the employee you recommended completes 12 months within Airports, a further 1000 New Zealand Dollars will be paid to you both.”
Foran added, “Getting aircraft out of storage, people back in, opening ports, and working with new travel requirements, there’s a lot to consider, and the Air New Zealand team are doing their very best to make it happen as quickly as possible.”
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