Air New Zealand expands Dreamliner deployment on long-haul routes

Air New Zealand is continuing to use its expanding Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner fleet to grow its presence in long-haul markets. The airline confirmed this week that it will introduce the type on its new route between Auckland and Buenos Aires, Argentina as it also debuted the type on a scheduled exclusive basis in the North America market on its Auckland - Honolulu route.

The Auckland - Buenos Aires route is still in its infancy and was only inaugurated by Air New Zealand on a three times weekly basis in December 2015 as part of its Pacific Rim growth strategy. Strong demand will see the introduction of a fourth weekly rotation for the high season from December 12, 2016 through February 27, 2017.

The Dreamliner will come online from October 30, 2016 and will also offer a capacity increase versus the Boeing 767-300ER that currently serves the route. Air New Zealand has configured its aircraft in a 302-seat arrangement including 18 fully flat business seats as well as 21 Premium Economy and 264 Economy seats.

The airline's chief sales and commercial officer, Cam Wallace says the new route, the only non-stop connection between the two countries, has opened doors to Argentineans visiting New Zealand and Kiwis and Australians looking to explore Buenos Aires and beyond. "Forward bookings originating from both New Zealand and Australia, and Argentina, are looking very positive and the additional peak season service will give customers more flexibility," he said.

The increased frequency and capacity will benefit both Kiwis and Australians – particularly the Argentinian contingent living in Australia. There are 9,879 diaspora Argentinians living in Australia, and 11,985 by birth, making Argentines the fifth largest Latin American group in the country. In New Zealand, almost 50,000 people – or 1.2 percent of the population – are of Middle Eastern, Latin American or African descent. The Latin American population nearly doubled in size between the 2006 and 2013 Consensuses.

In Argentina, international tourist numbers are on the up, following a sharp drop in numbers in 2013. Almost six million international tourists visited the Latin American country in 2014. New Zealand’s national airline is the only carrier to offer a direct service from Auckland to Buenos Aires, a city pair previously served by Aerolineas Argentinas up until June 2012. It is also only the second non-stop flight between New Zealand and South America alongside the daily LAN Airlines link between Santiago and Auckland.

The announcement of the Buenos Aires Dreamliner deployment came as the aircraft debuted on Air New Zealand's route between Auckland and Honolulu, replacing older 767-300 equipment. The aircraft switch on May 10, 2016 follows a frequency increase to a four times weekly schedule earlier this year, together affording an almost 20 percent seat capacity increase on the route. It is the first of the carrier's routes in North America to be flown on a scheduled and exclusive basis with the Dreamliner.

Air New Zealand has held a monopoly in the Auckland - Honolulu market for many years, but this ended in 2013 when Hawaiian Airlines introduced its own three times weekly service on the route. The arrival of the second airline has meant capacity has grown from just over 30,000 seats in each direction in 2012 to over 100,000 seats this calendar year, based on published schedules from intelligence provider, OAG.

According to Hawaii Tourism Authority, 66,405 people visited the state from New Zealand in 2015 as Hawaii continues to be a popular holiday destination for Kiwi travellers. Capacity on the Auckland – Honolulu route has increased by 9.7 percent this year versus 2015.

Air New Zealand expects its expanded offer will not only support the large point-to-point demand in this market, but also provide alternative connection options for traffic to and from Australia. "We're thrilled to be adding additional capacity and are confident more Australian customers will be looking to connect through Auckland on our evening Dreamliner service," added Cam Wallace.

Air New Zealand is also growing capacity on an existing Dreamliner route with flights between Auckland and Shanghai Pu Dong increasing to a ten times weekly schedule from December 17, 2016, up from a daily operation. The Auckland - Tokyo Narita market currently served on a ten times weekly basis by the 787-9 will instead will be flown on a daily basis by a 777-200ER from October 30, 2016, with the three remaining seasonal flights continuing to be flown with the Dreamliner. More details on these schedules are available on our blog, Airlineroute.

The increasing capacity being offered by Air New Zealand follows a successful 2015 which saw passenger revenue increase by 6.8 percent ahead of capacity growth. Capacity and demand grew by 6.6 percent, and passenger numbers were up by 4.2 percent. The airline reported significant growth on international routes, as well as an investment of $2.6 billion in aircraft and associated assets over the next four years. Capacity increased across its network, but within North America and Europe, growth was reported at nine percent. Air New Zealand has also started 2016 strongly carrying almost four million passengers in the first three months of the year.

Laura Hamill

Originally from Belfast, Laura graduated from De Montfort University, Leicester with a BA Hons English and Journalism degree in 2014. She has…