Air New Zealand celebrates first direct flight to Adelaide in over a year

Air New Zealand's first direct passenger flight from Aotearoa to Adelaide in over a year has landed. 

After the COVID-19 pandemic decimated international travel, Flight NZ191 left Auckland International Airport on Wednesday morning at 8:20am, on schedule.

The flight appeared to be about a quarter full and passengers were treated to a glass of bubbles for the occasion.

To welcome Kiwis back to South Australia, Ngarrindjeri artist Major Sumner performed a Welcome to Country at Adelaide Airport for the flight's arrival, as freshly shucked Coffin Bay oysters and Maggie Beer canapes were served.

It's the first time Air NZ has flown the route since late March last year. The airline says it'll now fly Auckland-Adelaide direct three to four times per week using its A321neo and A320 aircraft.

It's the seventh Australian city the airline now operates trans-Tasman bubble flights to, which chief customer and commercial officer Leanne Geraghty says is "really positive".

On-board the Air New Zealand Airbus A321neo.
On-board the Air New Zealand Airbus A321neo. Photo credit: Newshub/Daniel Rutledge

"We're really excited to reopen our Auckland-Adelaide route connecting customers to all that New Zealand and South Australia have to offer," she says.

"On a personal note, I love wandering around the small tourist town of Hahndorf, it's a real treat and I can't wait to get back and visit soon."

In 2020, huge numbers of New Zealanders holidayed in new parts of their own country as borders were shut due to the pandemic. Today, a lot of international travel remains off-limits, so it's a good opportunity to check out new places in the few countries we are allowed to visit.

Brent Hill is the executive director of marketing at South Australian Tourism Commission and he reckons it's the ideal time for a first visit to his state.

A traditional welcome to country.
A traditional welcome to country. Photo credit: Newshub/Daniel Rutledge

"Kiwis know what to expect when it comes to Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast, they've grown up going there. But now is the time to explore a little further, discover some of the more interesting corners of Australia," Hill tells Newshub.

"Adelaide is known as the boutique city and is one of the great wine capitals of the world alongside Bordeaux, Napa Valley and Mendoza.

"Beyond great food and wine, there's so much you wouldn't expect, like swimming with sealions on the Eyre Peninsula, plucking oysters straight from the sea, watching the sun set on Outback mountain ranges, having breakfast with kangaroos in the Barossa. So pop on over!"

Indeed, tourist operators and Air NZ want more New Zealanders to head across the ditch for holidays in Australia.

Late last month, the airline's CEO Greg Foran said passenger numbers on flights to Australia had been good but were slightly lower than expected, resulting in some flights being cancelled.

How many do take the opportunity to travel direct to Adelaide in the coming months will be eagerly monitored.