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Air New Zealand seeks airports to trial zero-emissions route

written by Jake Nelson | August 2, 2023

Air New Zealand is working with Eviation, Beta, VoltAero and Cranfield Aerospace on low-emissions aircraft. (Image: Air New Zealand)

Air New Zealand is seeking expressions of interest from NZ airports capable of hosting planned low- or zero-emissions aircraft.

The Kiwi national carrier is looking to fly an electric, hydrogen or hybrid aircraft on a cargo-only demonstrator route by 2026, and expects to make an announcement around the type of aircraft it will be using by early next year.

According to Air New Zealand chief sustainability officer Kiri Hannifin, low- and zero-emissions aircraft are an important part of the airline’s decarbonisation strategy, and the airports selected will play a key role in introducing them to the country.

“While we’re really looking forward to bringing two frontrunner airports on board, it’s also important to note that all airports in New Zealand play an important role as we work towards bringing next generation aircraft into our network here in Aotearoa at scale,” she said.

“Over the next few years as Air New Zealand works towards its ambition of flying next generation aircraft on our domestic network from 2030, we will be focused on supporting the building, testing, and certifying of aircraft and associated infrastructure.


“The selected airports will be leaders in supporting the implementation of this new technology and will be the conduit of information between airports across the motu as we drive the change required in advance of our larger fleet replacement needs from 2030.”

Air New Zealand last year announced it was working with Eviation, Beta, VoltAero and Cranfield Aerospace on low-emissions aircraft, with CEO Greg Foran saying the aim was to purchase an aircraft for delivery from 2026.

“The learnings we will take from flying an aircraft with next generation propulsion technology from 2026 will then pave the way for our long-term partners to deliver an aircraft that can replace our Q300 turboprop domestic fleet,” he said.

“Getting a zero emissions aircraft off the ground by 2026 is going to be challenging. But we’re incredibly ambitious – because we need to be.”

Air New Zealand’s plans are on a similar schedule to Queensland regional carrier Skytrans, which wants to fly hydrogen-powered commercial planes by 2026, and Rex, which wants to retrofit electric engines to Saab 340 planes within the same timescale.

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