Big news in air travel: Air New Zealand and United Airlines have announced plans to launch the first and only nonstop service between New Zealand and the East Coast of the United States. Starting in October 2020, Air New Zealand will begin three-times-weekly nonstop service between Auckland and New York’s Newark Liberty International Airport.
"Air New Zealand's nonstop flight will cut travel time by around three hours, putting New Zealand in easy reach of New York and the East Coast United States," said Jeff McDowall, Air New Zealand's acting CEO, in a written statement.
United SVP of Alliances John Gebo noted that customers will be able to connect with more than 90 destinations across the United States via United’s Newark hub.
The new, year-round service will operate three times per week on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, on Air New Zealand’s newly configured Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. The flight time will be approximately 17 hours and 40 minutes southbound and 15 hours and 40 minutes northbound.
The move builds on the existing joint venture between the two airlines, which began in 2016. Last year, they announced new year-round nonstop Air New Zealand service between Chicago and Auckland.
The new service is also the latest effort to take advantage of new, long-range aircraft to offer direct service from the U.S. East Coast to Oceania. Qantas is testing the viability of ultra-long-haul flights from New York to Sydney. Dubbed Project Sunrise, the effort aims to research the health effects such a long flight, which would likewise be operated on a Boeing 787-9, would have on passengers and crew.
According to our partner publication, Luxury Travel Advisor, Qantas carried out the first of these test flights this week. At 19 hours and 16 minutes, it would be the world’s longest nonstop commercial flight if Qantas began operating it regularly. The current record holder is Singapore Airlines, which operates a nonstop flight between Singapore and Newark that clocks in at 18 and a half hours.