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Air New Zealand completes first 17-hour nonstop flight from New York to Auckland: This is a sneak peek

It is official: There is a new contender on the listing of the world’s longest flights and TPG was aboard.

Air New Zealand accomplished its first round-trip flight between Auckland (AKL) and New York’s John F. Kennedy Worldwide Airport (JFK) this weekend, with the phase from JFK to Auckland departing Saturday night in New York and arriving in Auckland 16 hours and 36 minutes afterward Monday morning (or Sunday afternoon New York time). The primary flight from Auckland to New York arrived earlier on Saturday.

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With the inaugural flight out of the way in which, Air New Zealand’s new thrice-weekly service provides the airline the prize for the world’s fourth longest flight (8,828 miles, in accordance with Nice Circle Mapper, blocked at 17 hours and 35 minutes), simply behind Singapore Airways’ nonstop flights from Singapore to JFK (9,537 miles, 18 hours and 40 minutes) and Newark (9,534 miles, 18 hours and half-hour) and the Perth-London operation flown by Qantas (9,010 miles, blocked at 17 hours and quarter-hour ).

Though the Singapore flights function on A350-900ULR plane with solely enterprise class and premium economic system, Air New Zealand features a coach cabin on its Auckland-JFK service.

The flight marks the return of ultra-long-haul route enlargement, a pattern among the many world’s airways within the late-2010s that was shelved because the pandemic introduced world journey to a halt.

DAVID SLOTNICK/THE POINTS GUY

It additionally represents a serious new flagship route for majority state-owned Air New Zealand because the nation seeks to aggressively increase its tourism base. Notably, the airline selected to provide the first flight quantity to the phase bringing passengers to Auckland, somewhat than the departing flight: JFK to Auckland bears the flight quantity NZ1, whereas the northbound flight from Auckland to New York is NZ2.

The US market is essential to New Zealand, and a nonstop from New York is predicted to extend the nation’s enchantment with it now reopened to vacationers. Previous to the pandemic, the US was the third-biggest tourism marketplace for New Zealand (behind Australia and China), comprising 10% of all guests and 13% of all customer spend, in accordance with Tourism New Zealand.

The brand new flight route is predicted to convey $65 million yearly into New Zealand’s economic system, airline CEO Greg Foran informed the New Zealand Herald.

Whereas airline executives and New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, had been meant to fly on the preliminary phase to New York, Ardern canceled with a purpose to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

DAVID SLOTNICK/THE POINTS GUY

Forward of the flight, a way of significance was palpable. Ads for the flight have been all around the metropolis for weeks, the New Zealand press has been protecting the flight extensively, and the hours earlier than the inaugural had been thrilling for airline and airport staff and passengers alike.

Whereas the southbound flight was an thrilling one for Air New Zealand, the airline saved it low-key for the JFK departure after celebrating earlier in Auckland for the departure.

Because the flight boarded and departed, it was inconceivable to keep away from pondering of Undertaking Dawn, the trouble by Australian flag provider Qantas to launch nonstop flights from Sydney to London and New York, which might signify the first- and second-longest industrial flights, respectively . The airline presently operates these routes with a cease.

Qantas carried out a proof-of-concept Undertaking Dawn check flight in 2019, flying a newly delivered Boeing 787-9 from JFK to Sydney, repeating the check with a separate flight from London. The check flights, blocked at about 19 hours, acquired important consideration regardless of criticism that and not using a concrete begin date, the flights had been merely publicity stunts. Qantas has since bought A350-1000ULR plane from Airbus for the flights, which it says it plans to launch in 2025. A number of present TPG staffers, this reporter included, had been aboard the 2019 check flight.

With the launch of Auckland-New York, Air New Zealand has managed to beat Qantas to providing frequently scheduled nonstop service between the East Coast and the Oceania area that features Australia and New Zealand, although the brand new service lags behind the Singapore Airways routes when it comes to the crown of “world’s longest.”

Qantas, nevertheless, is racing to compete for the US East Coast. The airline introduced it should additionally launch a flight from Auckland to New York as a fifth-freedom route, with a connection from Sydney, beginning subsequent June.

The cabin crew working aboard Air New Zealand’s first flight from New York to Auckland. DAVID SLOTNICK/THE POINTS GUY

For the following 9 months, nevertheless, Air New Zealand has the nonstop path to itself, providing it time to settle into the brand new market.

Air New Zealand operates the AKL-JFK flights with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner specifically configured with a extra premium-focused cabin than the remainder of its 787-9 fleet. The Dreamliners on the New York route function 27 lie-flat business-class seats, 33 premium economic system recliners, 215 common economic system seats and 13 Economic system Skycouches. The Skycouches enable passengers to ebook a complete row of three economic system seats, which, when coupled with raiseable footrests, creates a couch-like setup.

The remainder of Air New Zealand’s Dreamliners function 18 business-class seats, 21 premium economic system seats, 263 economic system seats and 16 Skycouch rows. The airline additionally lately introduced a brand new business-class product and the Skynest economic system sleeper pod, though these haven’t entered service but.

As is the case with any ultra-long-haul flight, the trek between Auckland and New York felt like a slog, even within the premium cabins. Nonetheless, with the route well-timed for sleep, it was doable to get a good evening’s relaxation whereas nonetheless getting some work accomplished or watching some motion pictures — for example, your complete Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was famously filmed in New Zealand.

Editor’s observe: We now have a full inside take a look at the primary flight from New York to Auckland coming quickly — make sure to verify TPG Monday morning for extra.

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