Air New Zealand says that it will be flying 4.5 million seats on 39 international routes, between March and October this year, alongside significant investments in its international fleet.

The investment includes NZ$3.5 billion (US$2.2 billion) in the purchase of eight new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and five Airbus A320neo aircraft to add more seats on the Tasman and Pacific Island services.

This includes the interior refurbishment of its 14 existing Boeing 787-9 aircraft, including the airline’s new Business Premier Luxe and refreshed cabins. Work is expected to start next year.

Currently business class on Air New Zealand’s 787-9 aircraft comes in an inward facing 1-1-1 configuration. Passengers have often complained about not being able to look out the windows because of this layout.

Star Alliance member Air New Zealand is also in final negotiations to secure another Boeing 777-300ER, which could add 3,000 more seats per week to the airline’s international network. This would bring the total 777-300ER fleet to eight. Just earlier this week, Air New Zealand returned its seventh 777-300ER from Covid storage in the Mojave Desert.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran says these new fleet investments send a clear message that the airline is committed to grow and support New Zealand tourism all year round.

“Our fleet investment, capacity update, and marketing spend represent a significant commitment to New Zealand’s tourism industry. By investing in new and retrofitted aircraft, adding more seats to our international routes, and increasing our marketing presence in key markets, we’re making it even easier for visitors to tick New Zealand off their bucket lists.”

“We’re proud to be making this investment in our fleet and in the future of air travel. Investing in new and retrofitted aircraft will help us attract even more premium leisure customers from the Pacific Rim to New Zealand, boosting the growth of our tourism industry.”

Across the airline’s international network, capacity is back to about 91 per cent of pre-Covid and bookings are steady, it says.

Air New Zealand’s North America network is close to pre-Covid levels, with more seats from Houston, San Francisco, and Vancouver.

“Our New York route is special, and a valuable and promising market for New Zealand. The route has demonstrated strong demand since its launch in September and presents untapped potential for us to attract high-value customers and showcase the best of what our country has to offer.”

Later this year, the airline’s alliance partner, United Airlines, will launch new routes from San Francisco-Christchurch and Los Angeles-Auckland, further growing North America capacity.

Air New Zealand’s capacity on its Asia network is at 117 per cent of pre-Covid levels, with Singapore remaining a key hub, particularly for connecting to India and Europe.

Demand out of China is slowly rebuilding, and the airline’s alliance partner, Air China, has restarted its Beijing-Auckland route.

Capacity on Air New Zealand’s Tasman and Pacific Island network is also nearing pre-Covid levels.

The airline’s domestic network is back to pre-Covid levels. Air New Zealand has added 5,000 seats a week to Christchurch, connecting the Garden City more often to Hamilton, Napier, and Nelson, and added 6,000 seats on regional flights out of Auckland and to main centres.