Adelaide will become the fifth Australian city to receive Air New Zealand widebody services from October when the airline deploys the Boeing 787-9 to the South Australian capital.
Flights with the Dreamliner were scheduled to begin from October 26 2017, offering South Australians business and premium economy options for travel to New Zealand, the South Pacific and the Americas via Air New Zealand’s Auckland hub.
“This change is really going to enhance the experience we offer our customers travelling between South Australia and New Zealand as well as onto our North and South America destinations, with more choice about when and how they fly,” Air New Zealand chief revenue officer Cam Wallace said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Star Alliance member is the only airline offering nonstop flights between Adelaide and Auckland. Currently, it operates the route six times a week with Airbus A320 narrowbodies, with trans-Tasman alliance partner Virgin Australia codesharing on the service.
The decision to use the 787-9 to Adelaide will mean a reduction in frequency to three flights a week. However, Air New Zealand said it would add three A320 services on the route during the summer holiday period between December 2017 and January 2018.
The airline said capacity on the route would increase by 23 per cent during the peak season from October to March, compared with the prior corresponding period.
Adelaide will join Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney as Australian points where Air New Zealand deploys either its Boeing 787-9, 777-200ER and/or 777-300ER widebodies.
The New Zealand flag carrier has focused heavily on boosting international transfer passengers in recent times, with a particular emphasis on capturing a larger share of Australians heading to the Americas, where it serves six destinations – Buenos Aires, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver.
Efforts have included sale fares of less than $1,000 for a return ticket to the US, as well as the use of more widebodied services to ensure a consistent product offering on the trans-Tasman leg and the long-haul flight across the Pacific.
In October, Air New Zealand launched an Australian advertising campaign featuring the voice of Australian actor Bryan Brown in a new marketing effort to increase Australians’ awareness of the airline’s network beyond New Zealand.
At the time, Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said the push for more Australian transfer traffic to the Americas could pave the way for more widebody services on its trans-Tasman schedule.
Figures from the airline from the end of 2016 showed about 20 per cent of passengers on Air New Zealand’s Houston service, and about 40 per cent of passengers bound for Buenos Aires were from Australia. Both routes were launched in December 2015.