Air New Zealand’s first flight to Tokyo Haneda has taken off, marking the launch of the airline’s almost year-round service.

Flying out of Auckland on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from July until the following May, the new service will be operated by the carrier’s B787-9 Dreamliner. It’s worth noting this involves the airline’s current B787-9 Dreamliner configuration and not its new one, which replaces overall capacity for an increase in premium seats. This new layout B787-9 Dreamliner is currently scheduled to debut on Air New Zealand’s Houston service this December.

The new Haneda route from Auckland joins Air New Zealand’s existing daily flights to Tokyo Narita as well as between Auckland and Osaka, the latter of which flies between October and March, and will bring the carrier’s annual capacity to Japan up by 15 per cent.

“With the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Summer Olympics ahead, we look forward to building on our existing services and further growing demand for travel at both ends of the route,” said chief revenue officer, Cam Wallace.

Travel between Japan and New Zealand has been growing recently. The number of travellers from Japan to New Zealand to the year ending May 2017 has grown by 8.5 per cent, while those from New Zealand heading to Japan have jumped by 25 per cent during that period.

Details of the route are as follows (all times local):

Flight No. From To Departs Arrives Days
NZ0099 AKL HND 0855 1650 Wed, Fri, Sun
NZ0090 HND AKL 1830 0805+1