An increase in demand from US travellers has prompted Air New Zealand to boost capacity on its Auckland-Houston route by 16,000 seats between March and October next year.
Building on its “A Better Way to Fly” global marketing campaign, the Kiwi carrier is increasing Auckland-Houston services from five a week to a mix of daily and six-day-a-week flights between March 25 and October 27.
The service will deploy its newly reconfigured Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with additional premium seating. The plane offers 27 Business Premier seats — up from 18 on the existing Air New Zealand Dreamliner— and 33 premium economy seats, up from 21.
Air New Zealand chief revenue officer Cam Wallace said the airline had steadily grown its Houston operations since services started in 2015.
“A strategic gateway into America’s south, Houston is unlocking huge demand for travel to New Zealand from across the South, Mid-west and Mid-Atlantic regions, with annual visitor arrivals up 21 percent from Texas and 25 percent from New York,’’ Wallace said in a statement.
“As a transit hub, Houston also offers Kiwi travellers better onward connections to popular East Coast destinations like New York, Boston and Miami.”
The new global marketing campaign is Air New Zealand’s first ever and launched in the US in late August ahead of rolling out in other parts of the world.
Based on a similar Australian advertisement featuring Bryan Brown as Dave the goose, the global campaign features New Zealand actor Sam Neil as a CGI kiwi called Pete.
The first phase of the marketing campaign is targeted at North American travellers interested in visiting New Zealand and Australia.
“In the past year alone there’s been a 26 percent increase in the number of visitors arriving in New Zealand from the US, but more importantly research shows there are still around 27 million Americans interested in holidaying in New Zealand, demonstrating the huge potential of this market,’’ AirNZ global brand and content marketing manager Jodi Williams said.
“We’ve conducted detailed consumer research all over the world to gain greater insight into travellers’ habits and their understanding of our products and services.
“Interestingly, we found that perception of distance is one of the greatest barriers to travel to New Zealand with some consumers believing we’re 20 hours or more flight time away.
“ By showcasing our direct services and inflight products in an innovative and creative way, we hope to bust those myths and get more international visitors to commit to travelling on Air New Zealand.”
AirNZ also flies to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver in North America.