Air New Zealand leads as 2.4 million people visit country of only 4.3 million people

Image: Air New Zealand at Auckland
Air New Zealand’s intercontinental network is entirely focussed around its main hub in Auckland, where it has 54% of scheduled seat capacity.
Map: Air New Zealand route network

In a country of only 4.3 million inhabitants and with an isolated location, New Zealand’s visitor numbers of over 2.4 million annually are quite remarkable. A major benefactor is the national carrier Air New Zealand, which reported 12.4 million passengers for 2009, a fall of 6% against the previous year.

The environmentally progressive airline, which only last week was announced ‘Airline of the Year’ by ATW, offers 70% of its seat capacity on domestic services. Air New Zealand operates 44 domestic routes as a monopoly, while six of the main trunk routes – which constitute half of the airline’s domestic capacity – face competition from Virgin Blue and Jetstar.

Chart: NZ domestic market shares - Weekly seat capacity by route
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 18 January 2010

On the routes where it faces competition, Air New Zealand is the largest carrier on all but one; Auckland-Dunedin is dominated by Virgin Blue. Altogether, including monopolistic routes, Air New Zealand has a 78% share of domestic seat capacity, followed by Jetstar with 13% and Virgin Blue at 8%.

#1 on Australia, the biggest international market

Chart: Air New Zealand international markets Weekly seat capacity
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 18 January 2010
Pacific islands*: Fiji, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, Vanuatu and Niue

Air New Zealand’s main international market is neighbouring Australia, across the Tasman Sea. The airline offers flights to Brisbane, Cairns, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, predominantly from Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, but also from Dunedin, Queenstown and most recently also from Rotorua, launched last month.

Nudity sells: See Air New Zealand employees (including CEO Rob Fyfe) illustrate the transparency of its all-inclusive fares in an eye-catching TV ad.
Chart: Trans-Tasman traffic Weekly ex-NZ frequencies
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 18 January 2010

Air New Zealand is at 37% of frequencies the leading airline for trans-Tasman flights, even if adding Qantas’ its low-cost subsidiary Jetstar’s frequencies together.

Los Angeles served non-stop and via Pacific; London via Los Angeles and Hong Kong

Destination WF*
Los Angeles LAX 15
London Heathrow* LHR 14
Hong Kong HKG 7
Tokyo Narita NRT 7
San Francisco SFO 6
Osaka Kansai KIX 5
Vancouver YVR 3
Shanghai PVG 3
Beijing PEK 2
Honolulu HNL 2
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 18 January 2010
WF*: Weekly frequency
London Heathrow*: 7 weekly flights each via Los Angeles and Hong Kong
Image: Air New Zealand Biofuel
A year ago, representatives of biofuel manufacturer UOP, Boeing and Air New Zealand celebrated the successful trials of flights with jathropa-blended jet fuel.

Air New Zealand’s 10 intercontinental destinations are served from its Auckland hub. Los Angeles receives 13 weekly flights non-stop, one flight via Samoa and Tonga and one weekly flight operating via Cook Islands.

In North America, all flights are to the west coast and all of the airline’s Asian destinations are in East Asia. The only European destination, London Heathrow, is served daily via Los Angeles and, since October 2006, also with a second daily frequency via Hong Kong. It can be speculated that high American security charges and tiresome immigration procedures incited the airline to look elsewhere when doubling the frequency on its London service. The two London flights make Air New Zealand the only airline to offer round-the-world flights entirely on its own network.

The airline of choice for royalty: Click to see official coverage from Prince William’s Air New Zealand flight earlier this week. We thank The Royal Channel, the official channel of the British Monarchy, for publishing the video.

Five new routes in the last two years; replacing ageing fleet, but little room for expansion

In the last two years, Air New Zealand has started only five new routes, three of which are domestic Beechcraft 1900 19-seater services. In July 2008, the twice-weekly Beijing service from Auckland was launched and in December 2009, Rotorua got twice-weekly flights to Sydney. So far this year, the airline has announced a new service between Sydney and Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, neither of which is in New Zealand.

Mainline Air New Zealand currently operates six 747-400s, eight 777-200ERs and five 767-300ERs for its longer haul routes. It has orders for five 777-300ERs and eight 787-900s to modernise that fleet. On shorter haul services, the airline’s narrow-body fleet consists of 15 737-300s and 12 A320s, with orders for a further 14 A320s to replace the aging 737s. Provided the new aircraft replace the aging aircraft in the fleet, Air New Zealand does not seem to have any major expansion ambitions or even possibilities unless it exercises its options for even further aircraft.

Air New Zealand gets even more risqué – a viral campaign and competition promoted by its discount airfare site was criticised by some over-sensitive groups, but we think it’s just good fun.


  1. Robin Johnson says:

    Air New Zealand is a great airline, and New Zealand is a great country – but the latest one-year total count of international visitors is around 1,400,000 only.

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