Air New Zealand launching Auckland-New York flights on September 17

Air New Zealand will start flying direct from Auckland to New York and back three times per week in September.

Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft will be used, landing at Terminal 1 of John F Kennedy Airport after departing Auckland on Monday, Thursday and Saturday evenings at 7:40pm.

Flying Auckland-New York will take a little over 16 hours while the return trip will take around 17-and-a-half.

Air NZ has long dreamed of flying direct to the Big Apple and the route was supposed to launch in 2020, albeit to Newark Liberty International Airport rather than JFK. That was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New York will become the seventh North American destination Air NZ flies direct to along with Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver. 

"The US has always been a key market for us, and this new route cements our commitment to developing growing tourism opportunities between the two countries," says Air NZ CEO Greg Foran.

"In the six years leading up to COVID, the US visitor numbers to New Zealand doubled and looking at the average spend in New Zealand by US tourists, we estimate that this new route would contribute an additional $65 million per year into the local economy."

The return flights will depart from John F Kennedy Airport at 9:55pm (local time), also on Monday, Thursday and Saturday evenings each week.

An inaugural flight will depart Auckland at 4pm on Saturday, September 17, before the regular service launches on September 19.

The route is getting the auspicious flight numbers of NZ1 and NZ2.

"Traditionally, flight numbers 1 and 2 are used for an airline's flagship route. And that's what New York will be - our flagship route," says Foran.

Although the airline has stopped its own flights to London, the flights to New York open up a number of European destinations through Air NZ's partner airlines.

That means in just two flights, Kiwis can get from Auckland to destinations including Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich, Vienna, Brussels, Helsinki, Copenhagen and Stockholm, as well as a vast number of destinations in North America, South America and Central America.