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Air NZ to serve Houston from December

written by australianaviation.com.au | April 16, 2015

Air New Zealand 777-200ER ZK-OKC. (Darren Koch)

Air New Zealand will add a fifth North American destination from December when it starts flying between Auckland and Houston.

The new service will be operated by Boeing 777-200ER aircraft and run up to five times a week, Air NZ said in a statement on Thursday.

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Houston will join Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver and Hawaii as part of Air NZ’s North American network and is set to become the quickest way for New Zealanders to reach the US east cost and midwest.

Star Alliance partner United will place its UA code on Air NZ’s Houston service, and offer codeshare connections from the Texan oil and gas hub to other US domestic destinations, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. United will also codeshare on Air NZ services beyond Auckland.

The launch of the Houston route continues a period of expansion for Air NZ, which recently launched ticket sales for its new Auckland-Buenos Aires service also beginning in December and has been boosting service to Australia, Asia and North America.

“We are absolutely committed to expanding our Pacific Rim network,” Air NZ chief executive Christopher Luxon said.

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“The addition of Houston to our network will mean our customers can fly direct to Texas and then set out to explore one of the most vibrant and fascinating parts of American culture and experience down home southern hospitality through the food, music and sights of Texas and the American South.”

“We also look forward to welcoming more visitors to New Zealand from the southern and Midwest states and major East Coast cities where the option to connect through Houston will effectively make New Zealand’s tourism proposition more accessible than ever before.”

Continental Airlines had planned to launch its own Auckland-Houston service as far back as 2010 with Boeing 787 Dreamliners. However, the route was dropped following its merger with United.

Currently, the only direct service from Oceania to Texas is with Qantas, which flies six times a week from Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth with Airbus A380s.

Air NZ said the flights would begin in mid-December, without specifying an exact start date. Tickets were due to go on sale in May.

NZ Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key said the direct Houston-Auckland flights would support tourism.

“We already get thousands of visitors a year from states such as Texas, Florida and New York and this new service should allow us to boost those numbers further,” Key said in a statement.

“Providing greater links with these states, with relatively affluent populations, also aligns with New Zealand’s desire to attract more high-spending visitors to further boost our economy.”

The US is NZ’s third largest source of visitors behind Australia and China.

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10 Comments

  • Greg

    says:

    Go Air NZ !

  • Gaby

    says:

    People look at Air NZ with rose coloured glasses. They fell over spectacularly, had to have a government bail out etc. Coming from nothing you always look good. Let’s see where they are in ten years when they have older planes on the books and other issues airlines get over time.

  • Ben

    says:

    Spoken like true Australian

  • rocky

    says:

    Gaby,Air NZ hasn’t quite come from nothing. Since their govt “bailout” they have almost completely replaced their operating fleet in order to be as lightweight and flexible as possible. how about giving credit where its due?

  • Marc

    says:

    Air NZ have done a great job.

  • Ty

    says:

    I think Air NZ is just getting started… Singapore, Buenos Aries and Houston entering the network this year and the fleet renewal plan is set to have them placed in a very comfortable position come 2025, The 767s are about to disappear leaving a mixed 777/787 long-haul fleet. The oldest of these aircraft ( the 772) is currently 12 years old and are being refitted so they deliver the same levels of service/comfort as the 773/789 and will no doubt be replaced by an updated 777/787 model in the next 3-5 years. The Short haul A320 fleet (the oldest of which are also 12 years old) are due to be replaced by even more modern/efficient A320/A321 aircraft from 2018. They have options, flexibility and the ability to evolve relatively quickly.

    I think the challenge for Air NZ is not to lose touch with its ‘people first’ attitude which has been a crucial factor to its success during its 10 year turn around. Removal of the $50-$70 domestic standby tickets for frequent flyers was one such move that was a step backwards. Greater access to regional NZ where Air NZ holds a perceived strangle hold monopoly is another issue which needs to be addressed. Ralph Norris and Rob Fyfe have put Air NZ on the right track, the mission for Christopher Luxon is to keep the steam up, momentum going and prevent any derailments.

  • Greg

    says:

    With the right persons in the right seats – Norris/Fyfe/Luxton – you can do amazing things!
    Go Air NZ !!

  • Darren

    says:

    Gaby, spoken like a still disgruntled ex-Ansett employee. Looking forward to this new route, especially with AirNZ’s tie-up with VA!

  • Tim

    says:

    Wow, Gaby! You’re clearly someone that always finds the negative in everything. They’ve completed repayed the money from the government bailout, currently have one of the most modern fleets, and are arguably the most innovative airline globally. Do you really think they’ll now just sit back for the next 10 years and do nothing!?!

  • BooBoo

    says:

    Agreed Air NZ are doing spectacularly well, one of the best carriers I’ve flown short and long haul AND their fares are very reasonable. I recently booked BNE-LAX for $1050, nearest price was VA at $1350.

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