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Air New Zealand unveils demo route for all-electric cargo flights

written by Jake Nelson | April 17, 2024

Air New Zealand will use the ALIA from BETA Technologies on a test route for cargo deliveries with NZ Post. (Image: Air New Zealand)

Air New Zealand has chosen the first demonstrator route for its all-electric Beta ALIA aircraft.

The carrier will use Wellington Airport as its home base for the ALIA, which it expects to receive starting late next year. It will initially fly cargo services with NZ Post from Wellington to Marlborough Airport on the other side of the Cook Strait.

The airline picked the ALIA from four contenders last year, selecting the battery-powered conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) version of the aircraft. Air New Zealand has a firm order for one ALIA, with options for an extra two and rights for a further 20.

ALIA is capable of speeds up to 270km/h, has reached ranges of 480km in testing, and can be fully charged in 40 to 60 minutes. Air New Zealand plans to initially operate it on routes of around 150km, at altitudes of between 1,500 to 3,000 metres.

“We are incredibly grateful to both Wellington and Marlborough airports for being so willing to take on a leadership role in supporting Air New Zealand to establish next generation aircraft capability in our business,” said Air New Zealand’s chief sustainability officer, Kiri Hannifin.


“Their involvement is critical in supporting the infrastructure required to fly next-generation aircraft, and they’ll help lead the way in supporting airports across Aotearoa to make the changes needed for us to fly larger lower-emissions aircraft on our domestic network from 2030.”

Dean Heiford, CEO of Marlborough Airport, said the airport is looking forward to trialling the “next generation of aviation technology”.

“Decarbonising aviation is of global importance, and in New Zealand maintaining regional connectivity through this transition is of national importance,” Heiford said.

“This is a big step for us on our own sustainability journey that we wouldn’t have been able to achieve without partnership. We’re looking forward to sharing our learnings with other regional airports across New Zealand.

“Hosting the demonstrator with Wellington will further cement Marlborough as an important hub to keep New Zealand connected across the Cook Strait.”

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.

The carrier also this week announced a purchase of 9 million litres of sustainable aviation fuel for its jet operations.

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