Air New Zealand: Its major contributions to Aotearoa prosperity

Photo: By Darren Koch -, GFDL 1.2,

In a recent study conducted by Sense Partners, Air New Zealand’s significant economic contribution to the nation has been put in the spotlight.

This report, commissioned by the national carrier, sheds light on the airline’s role as a major player in the New Zealand economy. To provide a sense of perspective, Air New Zealand ranks second in business entities contribution to the national GDP.

In the 2023 financial year (FY23), the national airline facilitated $26.4 billion in economic activity. In doing so, it directly added $2.7 billion to the national economy, and enabled up to 5.6% of all New Zealand jobs.

Understanding Air New Zealand’s Impact

Mat Bolland, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Air New Zealand, emphasizes the importance of comprehending the airline’s role amidst the economic recovery post-pandemic.

He points to just how heaviliy New Zealand relies upon aviation to bridge gap with key global markets, due to its geographic location and relative isolation.

“We kicked off this research project last year to put numbers behind our purpose of connecting New Zealanders with each other and New Zealand with the world,” said Bolland.

“As a remote nation, New Zealand relies on aviation more than almost any other economy to overcome distance to markets, so it is vital for us to understand Air New Zealand’s role in our economy.”


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Photo Credit: Cammynz via Wikimedia Commons.

Reshaping Economic Geography

Air New Zealand plays a crucial role in reshaping the economic landscape of New Zealand, both domestically and internationally.

The airline’s services transcend boundaries, connecting the nation with distant markets and facilitating trade and tourism.

“The research was a reminder of the challenges New Zealand businesses face being so far away from key markets, with our closest major trading partner, Australia, more than 2,000 km away,” said Bolland.

“In addition – geographically – we are not that small a country, with our 5.1 million population spread over the same distance as from Denmark to Spain, spanning countries that are home to more than 180 million people.”

Driving Employment Opportunities

Despite facing pandemic-related challenges in previous years, Air New Zealand bounced back to profitability in FY23.

This resurgence allowed the airline to make substantial investments in its infrastructure, including the acquisition of new aircraft, bolstering connectivity and thus supporting local communities.

With its extensive operations, Air New Zealand serves as a catalyst for job creation, supporting over 130,000 jobs across the country.

These employment opportunities span various sectors, including tourism, export, and import, contributing significantly to New Zealand’s workforce.

Air New Zealand ATR Turboprop on the ground
Air New Zealand ATR – Photo credit: Air New Zealand

Facilitating Trade and Export

Air New Zealand plays a pivotal role in facilitating trade and export activities, transporting goods worth billions of dollars annually.

The airline’s efficient logistics network enables the swift and secure transportation of premium goods, ranging from fresh produce to high-value exports like gold and quartz crystals.

“Air New Zealand’s activity for the year facilitated a total of $26.4 billion in economic activity across areas including tourism, exports, and imports which demonstrates the essential role the airline plays in not just connectivity, but also supporting New Zealand’s economy,” says Mr. Bolland.

A parked Air New Zealand ATR72-600 aircraft.
Photo Credit: Air New Zealand

Addressing Sustainability Challenges

While acknowledging its contributions to the economy, Air New Zealand is committed to mitigating its environmental footprint.

The airline recognizes the urgency of reducing emissions and has embarked on a journey towards decarbonization.

However, achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 remains a formidable challenge, given the inherent complexities of air travel and freight logistics.

Click here for the full report, Facilitating Prosperity: The Economic Contribution of Air New Zealand

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