View Full Version : Air NZ plans San Francisco venture

20th Jan 2004, 09:02
Tues "New Zealand Herald"

Air NZ plans San Francisco venture
By CHRIS DANIELS, Aviation Writer

Air New Zealand is poised to announce a new international destination - and the koru is expected soon to be flying over the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.

While the airline is keeping the latest addition to its schedule secret until next Tuesday, San Francisco is widely tipped as the next city to be serviced by the national carrier.

The west coast city is a hub for several airlines and a popular airport for Canadian and US travellers. About 23 per cent of all US carrier passenger flights to Asia originate at San Francisco, which opened a new international terminal just over three years ago.

Security delays and overcrowded, uncomfortable facilities at Los Angeles International are also a deterrent to many travellers wanting to travel to the United States, though it is expected that Air NZ's services to London will continue to stop off at Los Angeles.

Air NZ is also expected late this year to announce it will start flying direct between Auckland and Shanghai, the commercial capital of mainland China.

The US is NZ's third biggest source of tourists, behind Australia and the UK, and latest visitor arrivals data shows a little more than 209,000 coming here.

China is a rapidly growing source of tourists also, with just over 64,000 coming here in the 12 months to November.

This was down nearly 14 per cent on the previous year, but this was largely because of the impact of the Sars virus.

Despite that drop, 2003 Chinese tourist figures are still more than 22 per cent higher than for the same period in 2001.

The introduction of new destinations is seen as a sign that the airline is back on its feet, after the near bankruptcy and Government bail-out of 2002.

This year it will begin refitting its fleet of eight Boeing 747-400 aircraft for between $150 million and $200 million.

Personal entertainment systems will be installed in all classes, and new lie-flat business-class seats.

It is expected that the first-class cabin in the front of the 747s will be removed, allowing more space for "premium business class" seating.

In the next six months the airline will decide what sort of planes to buy to replace its ageing fleet of Boeing 767s.

Twin-engined Boeing 777s and four-engined Airbus A340s are contenders.

Singapore Airlines has just taken delivery of a new long-range Airbus A340-500, which on February 3 will be used on what will be the world's longest non-stop commercial jet service, between Singapore and Los Angeles.

The trip to LA will take 16 hours and the return flight, 18 1/2 hours.