The non-stop New York route is served by the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
Air New Zealand’s non-stop flight from New York has landed in Auckland, about two hours behind schedule, following earlier fears it should be diverted to Fiji.
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NZ1 departed New York’s John F Kennedy Airport at 9:55pm local time on Thursday and arrived at Auckland Airport at 9:40am on Saturday.
David Morgan, Air New Zealand’s Chief Operational Integrity and Safety Officer, said Friday that the flight would make a “short stop” in Fiji due to “unusually strong winds in the flight path”.
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“The forecasted headwinds along the way are significantly stronger than usual — stronger than our 12 months of modeling and other data going back much further,” Morgan said.
“Refueling in Nadi is our standard contingency plan for these conditions and has also been used for other routes on our network in previous years. While these kinds of headwinds are very rare, they do happen, and we have taken them into account.”
AIR NEW ZEALAND
Watch Air New Zealand’s first direct flight to New York from Auckland land at John F Kennedy International Airport on Sunday morning.
The plane was originally supposed to land in Auckland at 7:30 am, but after the diversion, it was set to arrive at 11:15 am.
However, on Saturday morning, Morgan said the crew on board “could reschedule the flight based on actual and observed conditions”.
“As a result, they were able to bring our customers safely to Auckland two hours before their estimated arrival time of 11:30 AM, without having to refuel in Nadi.
“Our teams have communicated with the 80 customers who had connecting flights and they have all been rebooked and accommodated.”
In total there were 210 customers on board. Morgan said everyone was made aware of the Nadi diversion prior to departure.
The flight was only the third service from New York since the long-awaited route launched last weekend.
The first flight from New York, arriving in Auckland on Monday, saw about 65 passenger suitcases left in the Big Apple.
Alex Marren, Air New Zealand’s chief operating officer, said the airline had unloaded the bags so the flight could take in more fuel to bypass a predicted cyclone.
Chris McKeen / Stuff
The ultra-long-haul flight will initially run three times a week, but the airline hopes to eventually make it daily.
Aviation commentator Irene King predicted earlier this week In adverse weather conditions, the flight may sometimes have to make a stopover at destinations such as Hawaii or Fiji.
This was because the Boeing 787-9 used for the service was approaching the upper limit of its flight size on the non-stop route, which has a scheduled flight time of 17 hours 35 minutes.
King said Air New Zealand should make it clear to travelers that its “non-stop” New York service can sometimes involve baggage delays or layovers.
“I think they should pick up on customer service messages about the potential risks,” she said.