Air New Zealand has put a great deal of thought into its new service from Auckland to Argentina’s vibrant capital, Buenos Aires, which begins in three weeks’ time. The non-stop flights are the first scheduled services to any point in South America in the airline’s 75-year history.
The three-times-weekly return service, to be operated by a B777-200, will start on 1 December 2015 – and the three-days-a-week could rapidly expand. There’s plenty of scope for Australian travellers to connect through Auckland, and Air New Zealand traditionally keeps pricing keen.
Auckland could be set to become a mini-hub linking Australia and Asia to the southern part of South America. That’s the plan. Air New Zealand expects slightly over a third of passengers to come from Australia, with New Zealand-originating traffic making up 40% of the total.
The New Zealand carrier has set up its new South America route so it earns money from the outset, the New Zealand Herald reported. The airline’s planners first started assessing the route in 2009 and firmed it up in August last year. They like the fact that the size of greater Buenos Aires (about 13 million) guarantees good business from the one area.
The direct service will have a flight time of about 12 hours. A code share with state-owened Aerolíneas Argentinas will provide convenient connections to Brazil.
Buenos Aires is a popular tourist city and an ideal stepping stone for those who then want to explore the country, or South America, further.
South America is not the easiest place to do business. As the New Zealand Herald pointed out, the World Bank’s most recent “ease of doing business” index of 189 countries rated New Zealand second – and Argentina 121st.
Rather than leaving a “big pile of cash there” the airline will repatriate money made in Argentina weekly.
“Other than what we spend in pesos in Argentina, we have no use for that so we need to convert that out and we might as well do that quickly – it just is good practice,” Air New Zealand’s chief strategy, networks and alliances officer, Stephen Jones, told the paper.
Direct flights between Auckland and Argentina ended over two years ago after Aerolíneas Argentinas abandoned flying to New Zealand and Australia. Qantas and Chile’s LAN code-share to the Chilean capital of Santiago and beyond.
Air New Zealand plans to grow international business by 15% over the next year. It routinely ranks potential new routes once a month, the paper said. Two weeks after Buenos Aires, it will begin a five-times-a-week service between Auckland and Houston, Texas.
Written by Peter Needham