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Ultra-longhaul is back: Nonstop flights between New York and New Zealand launching this fall

March 22, 2022
4 min read
Ultra-longhaul is back: Nonstop flights between New York and New Zealand launching this fall
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In one of the surest signs that the travel industry is moving past the pandemic, the list of the world's longest flights has a new entry.

Air New Zealand said on Tuesday that it plans to launch nonstop flights between New York's JFK Airport and Auckland, New Zealand (AKL), later this year.

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Service will begin with a special inaugural departure from JFK on Sept. 17, 2022.

After that, the airline plans to operate flights in each direction on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, year-round starting Sept. 19:

  • Flight NZ1, New York to Auckland, departing 9:55 p.m., arriving 7:30 a.m. (+2 days)
  • Flight NZ2, Auckland to New York, departing 7:40 p.m., arriving 7:55 p.m.

At 8,828 miles long, according to GCMap, the new route won't quite be the world's longest, but it will certainly be up there. The southbound route, blocked at 17 hours and 35 minutes, will join other ultra-long-haul routes including Singapore Airlines' nonstop flights from Singapore to JFK (9,537 miles, 18 hours and 40 minutes) and Newark (9,534 miles, 18 hours and 30 minutes) and the Perth-London operation flown by Qantas (9,010 miles, up to 17 hours and 15 minutes; currently on hiatus but set to resume in the first half of this year. Qantas is temporarily operating the flight from Darwin, instead, which is about 400 miles closer to London).

The northbound flight is blocked at 16 hours.

Air New Zealand will operate the flight with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner specially configured with a more premium-focused cabin than the rest of the 787-9 fleet. The Dreamliners on the New York route will feature 27 lie-flat business class seats, 33 premium economy recliners, 215 regular economy seats and 13 "Economy Skycouches" — a feature that lets passengers book an entire row of three economy seats, which, when coupled with raiseable footrests, creates a couch-like setup.

The rest of Air New Zealand's Dreamliners feature 18 business class seats, 21 premium economy, 263 economy seats and 16 Skycouch rows.

In a press release, the airline said that the onboard service would be tailored for the ultra-long flight, particularly in premium cabins.

Nonstop service from Auckland to New York has been on Air New Zealand's radar for years. In 2019 the airline announced that it would begin flights to Newark in October 2020, but ultimately shelved those plans due to the pandemic. It was not immediately clear whether the airline still plans to add flights to Newark in addition to JFK. Newark is a major hub for United, Air New Zealand's Star Alliance partner.

Read more: Business class lite: Review of Air New Zealand’s Skycouch from Auckland to Houston

The U.S. market is important to New Zealand, and a nonstop from New York is expected to increase the country's appeal when it reopens to tourists later this year. Prior to the pandemic, the U.S. was the third-biggest tourism market for New Zealand (behind Australia and China), comprising 10% of all visitors and 13% of all visitor spend, according to Tourism New Zealand.

Although the flights are targeting customers who are traveling between the U.S. and New Zealand, the new routes could also benefit from demand between New York and Australia. Qantas still plans to launch nonstop service between New York and Sydney — dubbed "Project Sunrise" — but service would not begin until at least 2025.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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