Air NZ’s post-pandemic recovery takes off

Air NZ’s post-pandemic recovery takes off
  • Written by
  • Abby Beswick

Our national carrier has suffered a turbulent few years thanks to Covid, but strong customer demand is driving a turnaround for the airline, with its recovery well underway. Air NZ chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty reflects on recent challenges and progress and reveals some exciting innovations.

What have been some challenges and highlights over the past year?

When Covid hit, at its worst virtually overnight we found our passenger network closed down, and aircraft parked, resulting in a drop in demand by 95%. We’ve spent every waking hour since, restarting our airline, relaunching routes and getting staff back to ensure we’re delivering that great customer experience Air New Zealand is known for.

Three years on and we’re making great progress. We’ve brought our 777-300s back into service and welcomed new ATRs and A321s for our domestic fleet, adding around 300,000 seats to our domestic network. We’ve also run the biggest recruitment drive in our 83-year history – hiring 3,000 people in the last year.

Are Kiwis travelling as much as we did pre-Covid?

Demand has come back in a big way from the moment borders reopened. To give you a sense of the rebound, we flew 8 million customers in the first six months of our financial year (July 2022-June 2023), compared to 3 million last year. Our domestic network is back to around 95% of pre-Covid and international is at around 75%.

Will you be opening more routes?

We were thrilled to launch our New York route in September last year which is our flagship route. We’re now back to 30 international destinations – having just relaunched Bali in March. More generally, we’re focusing on our key markets like the USA, Japan, China and obviously Australia and the Pacific Islands.

What innovations can we expect in the near future?

Currently we’re exploring a range of innovations focused in areas such as sustainability, digital technology, and customer product and service offerings. We reviewed snacks on board, revamped international menus, adjusted seat offerings, launched our Gen II app and refined our loyalty and Customer Centre platforms. From 2024, Air New Zealand will offer a new Business Premier Luxe suite, a new Business Premier seat and the world’s first Skynest.

This includes a new Business Premier Luxe seat, designed to give customers more space and privacy, and Skynest, the world’s first sleep pods for Economy travellers. One of the most exciting innovations we’re working on is our Next Gen Aircraft. We’ve partnered up with some of the world’s leading innovators to help us replace our Q300 domestic fleet with a more sustainable option from 2030. We have never been more optimistic about Air New Zealand’s future.


People boarding air New Zealand plane

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