Air NZ celebrates first anniversary of flagship New York route, pokes fun at troubles and competition

Air New Zealand celebrates one year of direct services between Auckland and New York.
Photo credit: Getty Images / Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand has published a 'love letter' to New York to mark the first anniversary of launching a direct service between the city and Auckland. 

The ultra long-haul route had long been an ambition of the national carrier's and its start was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has become a "resounding success" as Air NZ's flagship route, the airline said. 

But the letter addresses early turbulence in the 'relationship'. When it launched with much fanfare in September 2022, Air NZ suffered some teething issues on the route, with luggage left behind on the very first NZ1 JFK-AKL flight and a few refuelling stopovers in Fiji making the direct service not so direct. 

"Ultra long-haul travel does come with its challenges and early in our operation on the service we contended with some unexpected weather patterns," Air NZ Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty told Newshub.  

"Like any route, when the weather doesn't play in our favour, we have contingency plans in place to ensure we get our customers where they need to be, safely. Fortunately, we have only had to use our contingency stopover three times since we launched our JFK service.  

"Since February this year, we've provided a seamless service with all customers and their bags travelling on services as scheduled." 

Shortly before the service was launched, Qantas announced it too would be operating an Auckland-New York direct service - providing competition and moving in on Air NZ's new darling. The airline also pokes fun at this in its letter. 

Flying direct to and from the Big Apple marked a significant change in Air NZ's international network including axing the Los Angeles-London route it had flown since 1982. 

After the pandemic threw an almighty spanner in the works, the airline celebrated a dramatic financial turnaround this year and the New York route is a crucial part of its success. 

"New York is one of our most popular and in-demand routes and has been a resounding success since it launched one year ago. We've operated more than 311 flights on the ultra-long-haul route, carrying our customers both out of Auckland and JFK," said Geraghty. 

"It also offers customers fantastic connectivity to the East Coast of the United States and beyond through to Europe. It is our flagship route and one we are incredibly proud to offer our customers.  

"This first year is just the beginning of our commitment to New York and we're looking forward to carrying even more of our customers on our NZ1 and NZ2 services for years to come."  

Air NZ's love letter to New York on first anniversary: 

Dear NYC, 

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. 


Air New Zealand