Air New Zealand celebrates one year of New York services

Image of a flying Air New Zealand Boeing 787
Air New Zealand Boeing 787 - Photo Credit Air New Zealand

New Zealand flag carrier Air New Zealand has marked the one-year anniversary of its long-haul flight service between Auckland and New York.

The carrier’s flagship non-stop route to New York was set to become a gamechanger, and at a flight time of almost 18 hours it became one of the longest non-stop commercial flights in the world.

A Rocky Road to the Big Apple


The much-anticipated long-haul route originally began service in the midst of a few teething problems. The first problems the service encountered was the prospect of strong headwinds.

Strong headwinds

In the early months after the service’s September 2022 launch, headwinds were a huge factor with the westbound flight.

On the first flight westbound on the new route, Air New Zealand were forced to offload 60 of their passenger’s bags in order to proceed with the direct flight.

The month following the service launch saw a flight on October 26 forced to perform a refuelling-stop in Nadi, Fiji after it encountered the headwind issue.

The flights are operated by Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. On paper, the aircraft can do the 14,200km journey halfway around the world.

The prospect of a refuelling stop in Nadi was always a possibility, and this was factored in by the airline’s planning well in advance of the long-haul route inauguration.

An Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 taxis after landing.
Alec Wilson from Khon Kaen, Thailand, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Flight to Nowhere

Then, on 16 February this year scheduled service NZ2 from Auckland to New York became a 16 hour “flight to nowhere” after a decision was made to turn back to Auckland after the flight was eight hours into its journey over the Pacific.

The cause of the turnback was an electrical fire which had broken out in Terminal One at JFK airport, which led to the subsequent closure of the terminal facility.

Whilst the cause was outside of the control of Air New Zealand it raised passenger annoyance and frustration, with some travellers questioning why the carrier couldn’t have simply diverted to a different US airport.

Image Credit: RadarBox

The spokesperson for the New Zealand flag carrier subsequently advised that the decision was made not to land at an alternative US airport, as that would raise difficulties the airline to recover its scheduling.

“Diverting to another US port would have meant the aircraft would remain on the ground for several days, impacting a number of other scheduled services and customers,” they said.

Smoother Sailing


With the initial teething problems ironed out, Air New Zealand has persisted with operation of the long-haul service and reached its one-year anniversary successfully.

To commemorate the occasion, the carrier penned a love letter to the Big Apple, which we now post in its entirety here:

A love letter to New York

After 365 wonderful days, 311 glorious flights and thousands of thrilled customers later, we’re celebrating our best ultra-long-distance relationship to date.  

The relationship began at 5pm on 17 September 2022 and boy was it love at first sight. Soaring through the skies at 43,000ft it was clear we would be in it for the long haul. 

Every relationship comes with its baggage and this one was no different. We’ve carried thousands of bags and while 65 were (temporarily) left behind, we made sure everyone was reunited with its partner. 

We flirted with some troublesome weather, but we’ll never forget the three romantic dates we spent together in the tropics. And while it doesn’t happen often, we know it’s always there if we need to refuel our relationship. 

We’re the first to admit that long distance isn’t always easy, but with commitment, being direct and doing our best to always be on time, we’ve made it work. We’re so lucky to have the full support of our airline whānau to help our relationship thrive. 

Our love language is acts of service and over the year we’ve shared more than 112,000 meals, 24,000 glasses of bubbles and cuddled up to watch 344,000 hours of movies together (no Inflight Entertainment and Chill). Nothing says quality time like ultra-long-haul. 

We know someone else has turned up on the scene but we’re not the jealous type. We both know who offers a better service in the sky. 

Around this time next year, we might look a little different. We’re going in for a FACE lift and knocking 19 years off our age. But don’t worry we’ll still be the same Kiwi you fell in love with all those days ago. 

So, here’s to our continued journey together. May it be full of clear skies, happy customers and memories to last a lifetime.

Happy anniversary New York – you’re forever our favourite route.

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Len Varley - Assistant Editor 6 Min Read
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