As the spread of COVID-19 weakens and countries begin to open their borders, people are eager to start travelling again, and airlines are preparing with new routes and destinations. New Zealand, in particular, has taken a conservative approach to entry restrictions during the pandemic.
However, the country plans to reopen on May 2, and its home airline just announced a new milestone coming this year.
On September 17, Air New Zealand will launch its maiden flight from Auckland, New Zealand, to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on the first-ever nonstop route connecting the South Pacific with the East Coast.
The first-of-its-kind journey will last 16 hours from Auckland and a whopping 17 hours and 35 minutes from New York, with the return journey becoming the fourth-longest flight in the world.
The new route will strengthen ANZ’s partnership with Star Alliance member United Airlines. The two currently operate codeshare services on certain flights between New Zealand and the US.
“The US has always been a key market for us, and this new route cements our commitment to growing opportunities for tourism between the two countries,” Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran said in a press release.
The flight will operate thrice-weekly on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, with both departures occurring at night. ANZ will use Terminal 1 at JFK, which is the airport’s main international terminal. Because ANZ and United are codeshare partners, it is likely some passengers will be continuing on to other destinations within the US via United.
However, most of United’s domestic routes are out of nearby Newark International Airport in New Jersey, but it is unclear if either airline plans to shuttle customers between Newark and JFK.
According to the airline, the Dreamliner jet will be configured with 275 seats, including 27 in business class, 33 in premium economy, and 215 in regular economy, including 13 sky couches.
A sky couch is a row of three economy seats that convert into a private couch after take-off so passengers can more easily spread out, lie down, or sleep.
ANZ said it has put a lot of focus on enhancing sleep for premium passengers. The airline plans to introduce “relaxing balms and sleepy teas and snacks,” as well as offer “Zentertainment” on the TV screens to help passengers get restful sleep on the flight.
Moreover, upon descent into Auckland, flight attendants will serve a brunch that includes a “classic Kiwi” flat white coffee.
The historic trek will allow ANZ to join Singapore Airlines, Qantas, and Emirates as operators of the top five longest flights in the world.
By September, Singapore will maintain the top two spots between the nation and New York, with flights to JFK currently in service and the Newark route relaunching on March 28.
Meanwhile, Australia-based Qantas will come in the third when it relaunches its route between Perth and London on March 28, and Emirates will come in the fifth when it resumes its route between Auckland and Dubai on July 1.
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