That’s the word from Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon. The New Zealand carrier is keen for Australians to keep flying as it lifts its capacity by 12% network-wide in the second half of this year.
New routes include a service to Buenos Aires in December and a new route from Auckland to Houston, Texas in the same month. Houston will be Air New Zealand’s fifth US destination.
Luxon was speaking on the 75th anniversary of the New Zealand carrier’s start of trans-Tasman flights. Air New Zealand celebrated the anniversary yesterday with birthday festivities including a themed trans-Tasman flight.
Air New Zealand’s first ever service, aboard the Short S30 flying boat Aotearoa, took nine hours to travel from Auckland to Sydney with just nine passengers aboard.
In contrast, the airline’s themed Auckland to Sydney service, which touched down yesterday morning using a B787 Dreamliner, zipped across the Tasman in just a couple of hours. It featured a 1940s themed menu and a mid-air fashion show of the airline’s uniforms through the decades.
The airline held a similar surprise promotion aboard a Sydney ferry, the Lady Herron, which will continue for a week.
The number of Australians travelling to New Zealand over the past year had grown about 6% despite the currency nearing parity in recent months, Luxon said. The NZ unit has come within a whisker of its Australian counterpart several times recently, in one case closing to within a cent of parity.
The NZ dollar is tipped to overtake the Australian dollar later this year.
Luxon said Air New Zealand focussed on the Pacific Rim so the alliance between Qantas and Dubai-based carrier Emirates had not had much impact on its market share.
Asked whether Air New Zealand wanted to lift its stake in Virgin Australia above the current 26%, Luxon said only “we are really comfortable with what we’ve got”, the Australian Financial Review reported.
Written by Peter Needham