Air New Zealand Limited is the flag carrier airline of New Zealand. Based in Auckland, the airline operates scheduled passenger flights to 20 domestic and 32 international destinations in 20 countries, primarily around and within the Pacific Rim. The airline has been a member of the Star Alliance since 1999.
Air New Zealand originated in 1940 as Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL), a company operating trans-Tasman flights between New Zealand and Australia. TEAL became wholly owned by the New Zealand government in 1965, whereupon it was renamed Air New Zealand. The airline served international routes until 1978, when the government merged it and the domestic New Zealand National Airways Corporation (NAC) into a single airline under the Air New Zealand name. Air New Zealand was privatised in 1989, but returned to majority government ownership in 2001 after near bankruptcy due to a failed tie up with Australian carrier Ansett Australia. In the 2017 financial year to June, Air New Zealand carried 15.95 million passengers.
Air New Zealand's route network focuses on Australasia and the South Pacific, with long-haul flight services to eastern Asia, the Americas and the United Kingdom. It was the last airline to circumnavigate the world with flights to London's Heathrow Airport via both Los Angeles and via Hong Kong. The latter ended in March 2013 when Air New Zealand stopped Hong Kong – London flights, in favour of a codeshare agreement with Cathay Pacific. The airline's main hub is Auckland Airport, located near Mangere in the southern part of the Auckland urban area. Air New Zealand is headquartered in a building called "The Hub", located 20 km (12 mi) from Auckland Airport, in Auckland's Wynyard Quarter.
Air New Zealand currently operates a fleet of Airbus A320, Airbus A320neo family, Boeing 777, and Boeing 787 jet aircraft, as well as a regional fleet of ATR 72 and Bombardier Q300 turboprop aircraft. Air New Zealand was awarded Airline of the Year in 2010 and 2012 by the Air Transport World Global Airline Awards. In 2014, Air New Zealand was ranked the safest airline in the world by JACDEC.
Air New Zealand began as Tasman Empire Airways Limited, founded in 1939 by an international agreement between New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Its initial shareholders were the New Zealand Government, Union Airways of New Zealand, Qantas and the British Overseas Airways Corporation. It was formed to fly trans-Tasman routes and carry passengers, cargo and mail between Australia and New Zealand. Incorporated on 26 April 1940, it started operations four days later, on 30 April. Its first flight, flown with a Short S30 flying boat, connected Auckland and Sydney.
Following World War II, TEAL operated weekly flights from Auckland to Sydney, and added Wellington and Fiji to its routings. The New Zealand and Australian governments purchased 50% stakes in TEAL in 1953, and the airline ended flying boat operations in favour of land-based turboprop airliners by 1960. In 1965, TEAL became Air New Zealand—the New Zealand government having purchased Australia's 50% stake in the carrier.
With the increased range of the Douglas DC-8s the airline's first jet aircraft, Air New Zealand began transpacific services to the United States and Asia with Los Angeles and Honolulu added as destinations in 1965. The airline further acquired wide-body McDonnell Douglas DC-10 airliners in 1973. The DC-10s introduced the new koru-inspired logo for the airline, which remains to this day.
In 1978, the domestic airline National Airways Corporation (NAC) and its subsidiary Safe Air were merged into Air New Zealand to form a single national airline, further expanding the carrier's operations. As a result, NAC's Boeing 737 and Fokker F27 aircraft joined Air New Zealand's fleet alongside its DC-8 and DC-10 airliners. The merger also resulted in the airline having two IATA airline designators: TE from Air New Zealand and NZ from NAC. TE continued to be used for international flights and NZ for domestic flights until 1990, when international flights assumed the NZ code.
In 1981, Air New Zealand introduced its first Boeing 747 airliner, and a year later initiated service to London via Los Angeles. The five 747-200s owned by Air New Zealand were all named after ancestral Maori canoes. 1985 saw the introduction of Boeing 767-200ER airliners to fill the large size gap between the Boeing 737 and 747 (the DC-8 and DC-10 had been withdrawn by 1983). In 1989 the airline was privatised with a sale to a consortium headed by Brierley Investments Ltd. (with remaining stakes held by Qantas, Japan Airlines, American Airlines, and the New Zealand government). The New Zealand air transport market underwent deregulation in 1990, prompting Air New Zealand to acquire a 50% stake in Ansett Australia in 1995.
In March 1999, Air New Zealand became a member of the Star Alliance. From 1999 through 2000, Air New Zealand became embroiled in an ownership battle over Ansett with co-owner News Limited over a possible sale of the under-performing carrier to Singapore Airlines.
Merger with Ansett
In 2000, Air New Zealand announced that it had chosen instead to acquire the entirety of Ansett Australia (increasing its 50% stake in the carrier to 100%) for A$680 million from News Corporation Ltd. Business commentators believe this to have been a critical mistake, as Ansett's fleet, staffing levels and infrastructure far outweighed that of Air New Zealand. Subsequently, both carriers' profitability came under question, and foreign offers to purchase the Air New Zealand Group were considered. In September 2001, plagued by costs it could not possibly afford, the Air New Zealand / Ansett Group neared collapse. A failed attempt at purchasing Virgin Blue was the final straw, and on 12 September, out of both time and cash, Air New Zealand placed Ansett Australia into voluntary administration, following which Ansett was forced to cease operations. Air New Zealand announced a NZ$1.425 billion operating loss.
In October 2001, Air New Zealand was re-nationalised under a New Zealand government NZ$885 million rescue plan (with the government taking an 82% stake), and subsequently received new leadership. This act was the only thing that spared Air New Zealand from going into administration and likely grounding.
In 2002, Air New Zealand reconfigured its domestic operations under a low-cost airline business plan, and the New Zealand government weighed (and later refused) a proposal from Qantas to purchase a one-fifth stake in the carrier. Air New Zealand returned to profitability in 2003, reporting a net profit of $NZ165.7 million for that year. The carrier saw increasing profits through 2004 and 2005. In 2004, the airline announced a comprehensive relaunch of its long-haul product, featuring the introduction of new seats in its business, premium economy, and economy class cabins.
In 2003, Air New Zealand added the Airbus A320 airliner to its fleet for use on short-haul international flights, and later, domestic flights. In 2005, the airline received its first Boeing 777 aircraft (–200ER variant), and placed orders for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in 2004. The airline later was announced as the launch customer for the -9 variant of the 787.
On 21 December 2010, the New Zealand government approved an alliance between Air New Zealand and Australian airline Virgin Blue (now named Virgin Australia), which allowed both airlines to expand operations between Australia and New Zealand with codeshares for trans-Tasman and connecting domestic flights; and reciprocal access to frequent flyer programmes and airport lounges. Air New Zealand subsequently purchased a 26% shareholding in Virgin Australia Holdings (Virgin Australia's parent company) to cement the relationship. By October 2016 Air New Zealand sold its remaining stake in Virgin Australia to investors and the Nasham Group. On 4 April 2018, Air New Zealand ended its partnership with Virgin Australia effective 28 October 2018.
In 2011, Air New Zealand introduced the Boeing 777-300ER airliner, as well as the Economy Skycouch, a set of three economy class seats that could be converted into a flat multi-purpose surface by raising the leg rests. After a four-year delay, Air New Zealand took delivery of its first Boeing 787-9 on 9 July 2014. The airline retired its last Boeing 747 in September 2014, the last Boeing 737 in September 2015, and the last Boeing 767 in March 2017, leaving it with a simplified fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft for short-haul and Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft for long-haul.
In November 2013 the New Zealand Government reduced its share in Air New Zealand from 73% to 53% as part of its controversial asset sales programme. It made $365 million from this deal.
Corporate affairs and identity
The Air New Zealand head office, "The Hub," is a 15,600 square metres (168,000 sq ft) office park located at the corner of Beaumont and Fanshawe streets in the Western Reclamation Precinct 2, Auckland City. The office includes two connected six-level buildings. The facility consists of a lot of glass to allow sunlight and therefore reduce electricity consumption. The building does not have cubicle walls. Lights automatically turn off at 7:30 A.M. and turn on at 6 P.M. Sensors throughout the building can turn on lights if they detect human activity, and turn off lights if human activity is not detected for 15 minutes. The buildings cost $60 million New Zealand dollars to build and develop. From late September to early October 2006 the airline moved 1,000 employees from four buildings in the Auckland CBD and other buildings elsewhere.
The company also occupies premises at the Smales Farm Business Park in Takapuna on the North Shore, adjacent to the bus station and Northern motorway. It is home to the Contact Centre staff (additional to those at 'The Hub'), Tandem Travel and other services.
Air New Zealand Cargo is the only current subsidiary of Air New Zealand Limited.
Air New Zealand had wholly owned subsidiary regional airlines – Air Nelson, Mount Cook Airline and Eagle Airways– that served secondary destinations in New Zealand. Together they made up Air New Zealand Link. On 26 August 2016 Eagle Airways ceased operations, in late 2019 Air Nelson and Mount Cook Airline were merged into its parent's operations.
Subsidiary company Zeal320 was introduced to help combat increasing labour costs. Zeal320 operated Air New Zealand's trans-Tasman fleet of Airbus A320-200 aircraft under the Air New Zealand brand. On 31 July 2006, flights were re-numbered to the NZ700-999 series for trans-Tasman services, and NZ1000 series for domestic services. All of Air New Zealand's A320-200s were registered to Zeal320 until 26 November 2008, when ownership of the fleet was transferred back to Air New Zealand. However, staff that worked the A320-200 fleet were still employed by this subsidiary. This was a source of contention within the airline group in which these employees were paid at a lower scale than their mainline counterparts. Continued industrial action by staff employed in this subsidiary during 2009 permanently delayed a proposed low-cost carrier airline as a successor to Freedom Air that would have also employed the Airbus A320 on domestic routes to counter Jetstar Airways, also operating in New Zealand. In 2015 Zeal320 was removed from the New Zealand Companies Office.
The following are technical operations subsidiaries of Air New Zealand:
Air New Zealand was the title sponsor of the Air New Zealand Cup domestic rugby union club competition through the 2009 season. The airline remains a major sponsor of New Zealand rugby, including the New Zealand national rugby union team, known as the All Blacks. The airline also sponsors the Air New Zealand Wine Awards and World of Wearable Arts; and partners with New Zealand's Department of Conservation and Antarctica New Zealand.
Brand and livery
The Air New Zealand symbol is a Māori koru, a stylised representation of a silver fern frond unfolding. A redesigned logo was unveiled on 21 March 2006. The "Pacific Wave" fuselage stripes were removed from short-haul aircraft in 2009, simplifying the overall livery, and was in the process of also being removed from long haul aircraft before the logo was changed again.
On 27 March 2006, Air New Zealand embarked on a changeover to a new brand identity, involving a new Zambesi-designed uniform, new logo, new colour scheme and new look check-in counters and lounges. The new uniforms featured a colour palette mirroring the greenstone, teal, schist and slate hues of New Zealand; sea and sky (a Māori motif created by Derek Lardelli) fabric woven from merino wool; and curves inspired by the airline's logo symbol, the koru. A greenstone colour replaces the blue Pacific Wave colour, inspired by the colour of the pounamu, the prized gemstone found in New Zealand. The Air New Zealand Koru was woven through all Air New Zealand's signage and products.
Later in 2009 staff were involved in testing fabrics and cuts of uniforms. "'It would be fair to say that the lessons from the development and introduction of the current uniform have been taken on board," said the airline's CEO after widespread public and staff criticism.
A rebranding was announced in July 2012. Ditching the teal and green colours that had represented the airline since its beginnings as Tasman Empire Airways (TEAL) in 1939, black was adopted as the brand colour in a joint effort between the airline, New Zealand design agency Designworks and renowned Kiwi typographer Kris Sowersby; as well as a new logo typeface. The tails of the aircraft and the typeface changed to black, while the rest of the fuselage remained white.
Then CEO Rob Fyfe said of the rebranding: "Black has resonated well with our customers and staff who identify with it as the colour of New Zealand and a natural choice for our national airline. It inspires pride, is part of our Kiwi identity and a symbol of Kiwi success on the world stage." The airline began using black as its corporate colour ahead of a sponsorship campaign with NZ's rugby union team, the All Blacks, in 2011.
Another new livery was announced on 12 June 2013. In conjunction with a NZ$20 million Memorandum of Understanding with the national tourism agency Tourism New Zealand for joint marketing, TNZ granted permission for Air New Zealand to use the "New Zealand Fern Mark", a standard fern logo used and managed by Tourism NZ and NZ Trade and Enterprise for international promotion, in its livery.
Two new liveries were unveiled. The first is predominantly white with a black strip running downwards on the rear fuselage from the tail, adorned with a koru logo in white, to disappear downwards just aft of the junction of the wings with the fuselage. The black and white fern mark adorns the fuselage. This livery is used on most of the fleet. A select number have an all black livery with the fern in silver, including the airline's first Boeing 787-9. Extensive consumer surveys by Air New Zealand revealed 78 percent people believed the Fern Mark fits with the airline's brand and represents New Zealand. The first aircraft to be painted in this livery was rolled out on 24 September 2013.
Air New Zealand operate four fifth freedom routes (i.e. between two non-New Zealand destinations). The airline operated weekly flights from Rarotonga to Sydney and Los Angeles, in addition to flights connecting via Auckland. In 2012, after securing a contract from the Australian government – Air New Zealand launched twice-weekly services from Sydney and Brisbane to Norfolk Island on its A320 aircraft.
As of 30 September 2019, Air New Zealand operates a total of 116 aircraft. The jet fleet consists of 64 aircraft: 25 Airbus A320 and 10 Airbus A320/A321neo aircraft for short-haul flights, and eight Boeing 777-200ER, eight Boeing 777-300ER and thirteen Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner jet aircraft for long-haul flights. The airline has ten Airbus A320/321neo, one Boeing 787-9, and eight Boeing 787-10 aircraft on order.
The airline's turboprop fleet operates regional domestic services and consists of 52 aircraft: 29 ATR 72 aircraft (six -500s and 23 -600s) and 23 Bombardier Q300 aircraft. Six ATR 72-600 aircraft are on order.
Air New Zealand domestic services are operated in a single class all-economy configuration. Seating forward of the over-wing emergency exits on A320 aircraft are Space+ seats, with a larger pitch between seats, but otherwise are effectively economy seats.
From July 2014, Air New Zealand has four domestic fare options, each building on the previous option:
Tasman and Pacific
In response to increasing competition from low-cost carriers, namely Jetstar Airways, Air New Zealand replaced its cabin and service on short-haul international routes to Australia ("Tasman") and the Pacific Islands ("Pacific") with a new "Seats to Suit" service in 2010. Introduced on the Christchurch-Sydney route from 18 August 2010, the new service was rolled out on all routes on 17 November 2010. All international Airbus A320 aircraft were refitted with an all-economy cabin that supports four options of service. Long-haul Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft also operate on these routes.
There are four options, building on each other:
Air New Zealand has reintroduced Space+ seats on the Trans-tasman routes, with 35 inches of pitch in the first three rows of the A320s. These are only available to Works or Works Deluxe passengers, and only Airpoints Gold Elite and Gold members of Air New Zealand's Airpoints frequent flyer programme are allocated these seats.
On 28 June 2004, Air New Zealand released details of the upgrade to its long-haul product, which was aimed to turn around the profitability of its international services. Every seat on its Boeing 747 aircraft was equipped with a personal LCD screen with audio video on demand (AVOD). First class was removed, with an upgraded business class and a new premium economy section installed.
In January 2010, Air New Zealand released details of its new "Kupe" long-haul product for its new 777-300ER aircraft which arrived later that year, as well as on its 787-9 aircraft. Changes included an improved Business Premier and Economy class product, a new Premium Economy cabin, and the introduction of the Economy SkyCouch.
Business Premier is the highest available class on Air New Zealand flights, available on both 777 variants and the 787 aircraft. The seating is configured in a herringbone layout in a 1-2-1 configuration on the 777s and 1-1-1 on the 787, allowing direct access for every passenger to an aisle. Each seat is 22 inches (560 mm) wide leather and comes with an ottoman footrest that doubles as a visitor seat. The seat converts to a full length (79.5 in or 2,020 mm) lie-flat bed.
Premium Economy is in a dedicated cabin, which shares lavatories with the Business Premier cabin, available on the Boeing 777-200ER, Boeing 787-9, and some Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The class has the same mood lighting, dining and wine selection and in-seat power as the Business Premier cabin. The newly refurbished seats are wider with a 9-inch recline and extendable leg rests with a 2-4-2 configuration on the 777 variants, and a 2-3-2 configuration on the 787-9. Seat pitch is approximately 41 in (1,000 mm).
Economy class is available on all aircraft, in a 3-3-3 configuration on the 787, and a 3-4-3 configuration on the 777-200ER and the 777-300ER aircraft. The seats have a pitch of 31 to 34 inches (790 to 860 mm), have a 6-inch recline, and have a flexible edge seat base to provide more leg support when reclined. Each seat has its own AVOD entertainment system, with a 9-inch screen on the 787 and 777-200ER, and a 10.6-inch touchscreen on the 777-300ER.
The Economy SkyCouch is available on the 787-9, 777-200ER and 777-300ER. It is a set of three Economy class seats on the window rows of the cabin that have armrests that retract into the seat back, and full leg rests that individually and manually can be raised to horizontal to form a flat surface extending to the back of the seats in front. It is largely designed for families for use as a flat play surface, and for couples, who on purchasing the middle seat for 25% more each, can use it as a flat sleeping surface. Each SkyCouch seat is equipped with the same basic facilities as a standard Economy seat. The Skycouch is only available on routes longer than 6 hours duration; where the aircraft are used on shorter routes, the leg rests are locked out and the Skycouch seats act as regular economy seats.
The SkyCouch has earned the nickname "cuddle class" by media reporting on the innovative seating, from the ability for couples to curl up and "cuddle" together on the 74 cm × 155 cm (29 in × 61 in) flat surface. Concerns were raised almost immediately over the couch potentially being a new way to join the mile high club. Air New Zealand responded that public displays of affection of that level would not be tolerated in its aircraft. The airline even released a billboard advertisement entitled "The Economy SkyCouch activity guide", suggesting "spoons" (hugs) were allowed, but "forks" (sexual activity) were not.
In-flight entertainment and magazine
Air New Zealand offers audio video on demand in all classes on international services on its aircraft. The AVOD system, branded KiaOra, features multiple channels of video, audio, music, and games. Passengers can start and stop programs, plus rewind and fast-forward as desired. It is a gate-to-gate in-flight entertainment experience: passengers can start their entertainment as soon as they board the aircraft, and continue until they arrive at the gate of their destination, maximising play time, which is especially useful for its short-haul Tasman and Pacific Island flights. Gate-to-gate in-flight entertainment is not available on certain seats in economy (such as the bulkhead and emergency exit row seats).
AVOD screen size varies:
KiaOra, the airline's in-flight magazine, was removed from international flights from March 2009. It is now only in seat backs on domestic and trans-Tasman services, however it can still be found in the inflight magazine racks on international flights. As a guide on international services, there is now a brief publication named Entertainment Magazine detailing the entertainment available on the flight, which also contains the buy on board 'in-Bites' menu.
Air New Zealand Lounge
The Air New Zealand Lounge is the name for Air New Zealand's network of airline lounges around the world. Members of Air New Zealand Koru programme may access the lounges, and also get valet parking, priority wait listing, exclusive check-in, extra checked in baggage and preferred seating.
Airpoints is Air New Zealand's frequent-flyer programme. Members earn Airpoints Dollars, which they can redeem at face value on any fare on Air New Zealand ticketed and operated flights. Members can attain status tiers, with increasing privileges ranging from Silver to Gold, then Gold Elite, by accumulating their Status Points, which are earned separately from Airpoints Dollars. Airpoints Gold and Airpoints Gold Elite have the same recognition as Star Alliance Gold status and benefits across the Star Alliance network. Airpoints Silver status is equivalent to Star Alliance Silver.
Airpoints members receive Status Points for almost every Air New Zealand flight, as well as many other flights with its Star Alliance partners. Status Points enable members to reach a higher status faster. Status Points will still be granted even on discount fares (such as Smart Saver and grabaseat fares) that normally do not earn Airpoints Dollars.
Incidents and accidents
On 19 October 2005, Air New Zealand proposed outsourcing most of its heavy maintenance on its long-haul aircraft and engines, which would result in about 600 job losses, mostly in Auckland. Air New Zealand said that there were larger maintenance providers that could provide maintenance work more cheaply due to their large scale. The proposal was estimated to save $100 million over five years and came after many attempts to attract contracts to service other airlines' longhaul aircraft.
Eventually, a union proposal to save some of the remaining jobs was accepted. The proposal included shift and pay changes (most of them pay cuts) which would allow about 300 engineers in Auckland to keep their jobs. 200 were made redundant or resigned.
Minor seating policy
In November 2005, it was revealed that Air New Zealand (along with Qantas and British Airways) had a policy of not seating adult male passengers next to unaccompanied children. The policy came to light following an incident in 2004 when a man who was seated next to a young boy on a Qantas flight in New Zealand was asked to change seats with a female passenger. A steward informed him that "it was the airline's policy that only women were allowed to sit next to unaccompanied children". Air New Zealand later said it had a similar policy to Qantas.
On 12 April 2006, Air New Zealand and Qantas announced that they had signed a code-share agreement for their trans-Tasman routes and would file for authorisation from the New Zealand Ministry of Transport and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The airlines maintained that they were making losses on Tasman routes due to too many empty seats, and that a codeshare would return the routes to profitability. Critics, particularly Wellington International Airport, Christchurch Airport and Melbourne Airport, argued that the codeshare flights would lead to reduced passenger choice and higher airfares, and that cities such as Auckland and Sydney would benefit immensely through economic activity services would bring.
On 15 November 2006 Air New Zealand announced it was withdrawing its application after a draft decision by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to not approve the code-sharing agreement.
On 31 May 2018 Qantas and Air New Zealand announced that "seamless air travel" would be available to their customers through a new code-sharing agreement. The code-share will take effect in October 2018.
In a 2008 effort to develop an aviation biofuel, Air New Zealand and Boeing researched the jatropha plant to see if it was a viable green alternative to conventional fuel. A two-hour test flight, using a 50-50 mixture of the new biofuel with Jet A-1 feeding a Rolls Royce RB-211 engine of one of the airline's 747-400s, was completed on 30 December 2008. The engine was then removed to be scrutinised and studied to identify any differences between the jatropha blend and regular Jet A1. No effects to performances were found. The use of jatropha has been identified as a possible future fuel but large tracts of low quality land needed to grow the plant would have to be found without impeding other agricultural uses.
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- "Airline Bars Men From Lone Children". peterellis.org.nz. 29 November 2009. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- Thomson, Ainsley (29 November 2005). "Ban on men sitting next to children". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- International air carriage competition Archived 29 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
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- QANTAS. "Announced: From October 2018 Qantas customers will enjoy seamless travel in New Zealand through our new @FlyAirNZ domestic codeshare agreement". Twitter. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
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