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Air New Zealand flies almost 16 million passengers in 2023

written by Jake Nelson | January 16, 2024

An Air New Zealand A320. (Image: Australian Aviation archives)

Air New Zealand has released some of its full-year figures for 2023, saying it flew almost 16 million passengers last year.

In its first full year of unrestricted travel since COVID-19, New Zealand’s flag carrier transported 15.9 million passengers and operated 169,835 domestic and international flights, up from 12.3 million passengers and 152,000 flights in 2022.

“We welcomed more than 10.6 million travellers onboard our domestic flights, a notable rise from 9.4 million customers in 2022,” said Air New Zealand’s chief customer and sales officer, Leanne Geraghty.

“Our international routes also saw significant growth, with more than 5.3 million customers compared with 2.9 million in 2022.”

The airline’s cargo division also transported more than 30,000 tonnes of export freight last year, including 6,900 tonnes of seafood, 5,500 tonnes of fresh produce, 2,400 tonnes of meat, 100 tonnes of pharmaceuticals and emergency relief supplies, and 16 tonnes of valuable goods.

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Air New Zealand last May announced a NZ$3.5 billion investment in fleet expansion and upgrades over the next five years, with plans to buy eight new 787-9 Dreamliners and five Airbus A320neos as well as an extra 777-300ER, plus interior overhauls for its existing 14 Dreamliners.

At the time, CEO Greg Foran said this represented a “significant commitment” to New Zealand’s tourism industry.

“By investing in new and retrofitted aircraft, adding more seats to our international routes, and increasing our marketing presence in key markets, we’re making it even easier for visitors to tick New Zealand off their bucket lists,” he said.

“We’re proud to be making this investment in our fleet and in the future of air travel. Investing in new and retrofitted aircraft will help us attract even more premium leisure customers from the Pacific Rim to New Zealand, boosting the growth of our tourism industry.”

Air New Zealand’s investment came as the last of four of its Boeing 777-300 planes was brought out of storage in the Mojave Desert after more than 855 days.

The fleet of seven 777s was mothballed during the COVID-19 pandemic, with four sent to Victorville and three stored in Auckland. ZK-OKM returned to Auckland on the evening of 10 May after its journey back from the US.

The airline also announced in August that it would buy two new 214-seat Airbus A321neos to fly its Tasman and Pacific Island routes. The planes are slated to arrive later this year.

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