Air New Zealand Rumored To Be Announcing Flights To Chicago

Presently Air New Zealand’s US destinations include Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. They’ve been flying to Los Angeles and San Francisco for years, while the route between Auckland and Houston is relatively new, as it was launched in 2015.

For quite a while there have been rumors of Air New Zealand announcing an additional US route, and Chicago has been one of the rumored destinations. We now have more reason to believe that this route may be announced shortly.

The New Zealand Herald reports that Barack Obama will be visiting New Zealand around March 21, on a trip arranged by Air New Zealand. While the reason for the visit is unknown, there is speculation that Air New Zealand is shortly announcing a new route to the US, most likely to Chicago. This would be fitting, since it’s Obama’s hometown.

Of course it could be that this isn’t the case at all. It’s possible that Air New Zealand isn’t announcing any new route, and it’s also possible that they’re announcing a flight to another US city. Regardless of what it is, this trip won’t be cheap, given what Obama charges in speaking/appearance fees nowadays.

If this route does happen, the Chicago to Auckland flight would cover a distance of 8,184 miles, making it over 700 miles longer than their current longest route, to Houston. This should easily be within range for a Boeing 787-9. This route would be about 900 miles shorter than the current furthest route in the world, between Doha and Auckland.

While presumably there’s not that much demand directly between Chicago and Auckland, this new route would build on Air New Zealand’s current strategy of serving United Airlines hubs in the US. Flying to Chicago would open up lots more one stop routing possibilities between the east coast and Auckland. I don’t imagine this flight would be daily (at least initially), though I could see a 3-5x weekly service working out quite well.

So if I were a betting man I would indeed guess that Obama’s visit is related to a Chicago route launch for Air New Zealand. That’s some expensive promotion!

Do you think Air New Zealand will announce flights to Chicago?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing, and featured image courtesy of Masakatsu Ukon)

Comments

  1. With each additional route to the US the add on benefit drops. Like there isn’t some untapped market of folks who haven’t been to New Zealand just because they don’t fly to their town. Perhaps they will drop an existing route. Anyway this should be good for award seats.

  2. There is also the market of Australians who want to travel to the US to consider. If one is flying to ORD, it is much easier (and more pleasant) to transit at AKL than at LAX.

  3. @Rob Ah what?! You think Air NZ will operate AKL-LAX-LHR-ORD?

    I find that unlikely.

    @Nick that’s an interesting point. But perhaps the traffic is the other way. Also, Air NZ goes pretty hard at one stop Australian traffic.

  4. @Nick actually Air NZ’s strategy for many years now has been to position Auckland as a hub for flights to Australia. This is especially true to cities in Australia that don’t have a US route in place (like Perth, Adelaide etc). It means these travellers can transit Auckland rather than say make an annoying domestic to international connection at Sydney. It also means that people that travellers from say Sydney could fly direct to Chicago via Auckland without a connection in LA or SF. Plus there have been rumours of Qantas flying to Chicago so could be used to get in first.

  5. @criced I wouldn’t think that is likely. Air New Zealand can pick up new passengers between LAX to LHR. They wouldn’t be able to do that between LAX-ORD, so there would be no benefit doing a lax-Ord tag over a nonstop.

  6. @Rjb I don’t think that’s the reason. Unlike our current leader, Obama is popular both home and abroad. My guess is they just want to make a splash about their new route using the popularity and name recognition.

    For someone who lives at the edge of the midwest and the northeast, and not too far from Chicago, it gives us non-coastal people an easier connection. I know I would much rather take a short flight to ORD than either fly all the way to the west coast to start a trip or go through JFK.

  7. I think AKL-EWR would be a more exciting route as it easily taps into the east coast market better than ORD would. EWR is also a UA hub.
    The Obama announcement does make ORD more likely.

  8. Sounds sensible to me. As an East Coaster I don’t want to fly to LA or SF. But a short flight to ORD to connect would be great. I can’t imagine what flying in the back of the bus for that long would be like though.

  9. Transit at LAX is hideous. Passengers going on to London (NZ2) and Auckland (NZ1) have to go thru chaotic US immigration, even though they are not staying in the US. Thanks, Dubya, and the ‘waronterra’. Loads of jihadis on every flight, eh?

    Some years ago, Air NZ made its AKL-HKG service a thru route on to LHR and many chose that route as HKG is a routine transfer and they actually got a little time to relax in the lounge or at the gate. Sadly, loads of competition on HKG-LHR led to Air NZ stopping the London segment.

    Air NZ has, when the engines aren’t losing turbine blades, a fleet of 787-9s ideal for the ORD route. Years ago, an American flight (707) used to do Auckland, Nadi, Honolulu, LA, Chicago and Detroit so AKL-ORD would be a redux of sorts.

    Neither AA or UA has had a great run with return to NZ. The AA service to LAX and the UA rotation to SFO have both been reduced to ‘seasonal’. When Air NZ needs extra Disneyland capacity they add the seasonal NZ4/3 rotation to the daily 6/5.

  10. Will Barack fly free? Probably wont be flying Y

    Lucky’s the one that should be flying free but he pays.

  11. @Sayeed

    Omg Obama popular abroad?! First I’ve heard of that, I’ll have some of what you’re smoking…and drinking.

  12. @ryan

    You must not, you know, *travel*, or *talk to people*.
    If you haven’t heard how much more popular President Obama is than the current accident then you’re doing neither!

  13. The chairman of Air NZ is the former Prime Minister John Key, with whom Obama is reported to get along extremely well: Obama extended a personal invite for him to play golf with him when they were holidaying (separately) in Hawaii. There have also been rumours reported recently in NZ that Obama was coming to Queenstown to play golf with Key. I suspect Key has tapped him for a favour for Air NZ while he is here.

  14. @Ryan
    The thing is, people don’t like being lectured to.They don’t like being told what they like by others.

    They especially don’t like a random person speaking on their behalf.

  15. I think the route is almost certain to be announced. I also think that Chicago Airports is giving NZ a lot of subsidization to start it.

  16. He (mainly his wife) refuses to return to Chicago as they have a high chance of getting shot by all the crime that Emanuel says does not exist.

  17. Wouldn’t it be better a nonstop flight to EWR? Nonstop flight from Oceania to NYC sound more exciting to me and its juts 40 more miles than the 787 flight from LAX to SIN.

  18. My friend works for air nz.
    He just told me the flight to Chicago is via nadi Suva Honolulu ago then Chicago work that out?

  19. @Number1, that doesn’t even make sense. Can you reread what you’ve written and clarify for us? Why would NZ fly a domestic sector between NAN and SUV and what does “ago” mean between HNL and ORD? Thanks,

  20. Why would they pay Obama to promote it? I dont think he would want to endorse a non-American company.

  21. I don’t think there is much of a link with Obama visiting. He’s a good friend of our ex Prime minister and is prbably coming down for a visit and to do a fundraising event. I don’t think the Houston to nz flights are that busy anyway. I could be wrong.

  22. Forget ORD that is a congested hell hole airport like LAX!

    The number 1 rule when flying in the US during winter is don’t fly through the northern airports like Chicago O’Hare unless you want to have your flight cancelled due to snow.

    They would be better flying direct to Orlando (MCO) as this is a destination in itself with Disney World, Universal, and NASA. Also almost every US airline has direct flights to/from almost every airport in the US to Orlando, FL. Better still MCO is rarely ever closed due to weather.

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