Air New Zealand’s inaugural flight between Auckland and Houston, Texas has touched down this morning (Dec 16).
NZ28 departed Auckland International Airport at 6:30pm last night and arrived at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport at 7.45am New Zealand time.
Passengers onboard, including Minister of Economic Development Steven Joyce and US Ambassador to New Zealand Mark Gilbert, were welcomed to Houston with a performance on the tarmac by a kapa haka group made up of Air New Zealand staff.
Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says the operational launch of the airline’s new Houston service, its fifth to North America, is a great way to end 2015.
“This week we mark 50 years of flying to the US – it’s a huge milestone and fantastic that as we celebrate this we also celebrate the operational launch of our latest US service which directly connects New Zealand to the heart of America’s south.
“We are committed to continuing to expand our Pacific Rim network and are excited to give our customers direct access to Houston and beyond.”
Today’s arrival into Houston rounds out a busy month for the airline which has also operated its first scheduled South American service to Buenos Aires and celebrated the launch of its alliance with Air China with an inaugural Auckland – Beijing service – and last month announced a new seasonal service to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
The new flights come just weeks after Air New Zealand was named Airline of the Year by world leading airline safety and product rating review website AirlineRatings.com for the third consecutive year.
The website’s editorial team praised Air New Zealand for its products, environmental commitment, innovation and internal culture which it says has resulted in exceptional performance in the market and in operational safety.
AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas said the airline is a global trendsetter, consistently performing at high level and at the top tier of the industry in a host of areas.
“Air New Zealand’s focus on its staff has resulted in outstanding performance right across the airline at every touch point and the airline’s innovation continues to impress, including the recently launched tracking of unaccompanied children,” he said.
“Given Air New Zealand’s location and the country’s size, its performance is stunning,” Thomas said.
The airline has also been awarded the Best Premium Economy and Best Economy titles.
Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon said the awards are a reflection of the consistent hard work put in by the airline’s more than 11,000 staff right around the world in what’s been a fantastic 75th anniversary year.
“It’s an honour to be named Airline of the Year again and the timing couldn’t be better with the awards coming at the same time Air New Zealand celebrates its inaugural flight to Buenos Aires Argentina, one of four new international destinations the airline is launching this year.”