At the beginning of February I shared the strong rumor that Air New Zealand would announce Auckland – Chicago non-stop. They’ve just done that, and alongside United has announced their San Francisco – Auckland will become year-round rather than seasonal.
The flight will launch November 30th and operate three times weekly with a Boeing 787-9. While a long route, it’s not even among the 10 longest in the world.
This will be Air New Zealand’s longest flight — 700 miles longer than Auckland – Houston, and also longer than their current Auckland – Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver flights.
And while there’s likely to be limited direct Chicago – New Zealand traffic, Air New Zealand’s current destinations in the U.S. are United Airlines hubs — as is Chicago — and this would open up more convenient connections throughout the Northeast. It would also position Air New Zealand competitively as the West Coast – New Zealand market has become saturated with new United (San Francisco, as part of a joint venture) and American (Los Angeles) service.
More service is great for those of us looking to travel on points. New Zealand non-stop is one of the tougher award routes in the world, and more capacity with demand relatively constant will hopefully – ultimately – loosen the grip on reward inventory.