Back in 1940, Air New Zealand began its operations using Short Empire flying boats on trans-Tasman routes under the name of TEAL (Tasman Empire Airways Limited).
After the end of World War II, TEAL operated weekly services from Auckland to Sydney, also adding Wellington and Fiji to its destinations.
By 1960, TEAL discontinued flying boats operations in favor of propeller airliners.
In 1965, TEAL became Air New Zealand after the New Zealand Government purchased Australia’s 50% stake in the carrier (each of them got 50% back in 1953).
Same year, Douglas DC-8 aircraft joined the fleet and Air New Zealand started offering transpacific services to the United States and Asia.
DC-10 airliners were introduced in 1973 and five years later, Air New Zealand took over the domestic National Airways Corporation (NAC) and its subsidiary Safe Air.
In 1981, the Boeing 747 joined the fleet.
One year later, service to London was introduced.
In 1985, Boeing 767-200ERs were added to the Air New Zealand fleet.
Air New Zealand was privatised in 1989, with a sale to a consortium headed by Brierley Investments Ltd.
Air New Zealand went through tough times in the next decade, being re-nationalised in October, 2001, thanks to a New Zealand Government NZ$885 million rescue plan.
In 2002, Air New Zealand changed its domestic operations under a low-cost airline business plan, returning to profitability in 2003.
After continuing to grow during the next two years, Air New Zealand received its first Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, also placing orders for the Boeing 787-9.
In 2009, Air New Zealand reported a massive drop in profits due to the global crisis and high oil prices.
In May 2010, Air New Zealand enabled its Boeing 777-300 aircraft with mobile phone and data capability. The introduction of the new service allowed Air New Zealand’s customers to use their iPhone, Blackberry and others mobile phones to safely send and receive emails and text messages during their flights.
In December 2010, Air New Zealand received its first Boeing 777-300ER aircraft in Seattle, USA with the Kiwi-designed Economy Skycouch seats. Highlights of the new aircraft interior include: Skycouch, giving couples and families the opportunity to lie down like they would on their couch at home, two distinctive Premium Economy seating designs to meet the demands of both individual travelers and couples, and induction ovens in all cabins, offering customers the opportunity to have fresh pizza and burgers, toast and eggs, or steak cooked the way they want it.
In February 2011, Air New Zealand received the new all black A320 aircraft. The Airbus A320s replace progressively Air New Zealand’s existing fleet of Boeing 737-300s, improving fuel efficiency on the domestic jet network. The larger aircraft enabled Air New Zealand to increase capacity. The 737 fleet was configured with 133 seats, while the larger domestic A320 aircraft with 171 seats, increasing domestic jet capacity by almost 30%.
In November 2011, Air New Zealand received to test the first Boeing 787. Air New Zealand hosted the Boeing 787-8 test aircraft at its engineering base at Auckland International Airport for two days. Air New Zealand was the launch customer for the larger 787-9 variant, which have a greater range capability and seating capacity than the 787-8.
In September 2012, Air New Zealand has invested more than $100 million in upgrading its Boeing 777-200ER fleet to ensure it continues to deliver the most innovative product and technologies to customers flying on its international routes. The upgrade is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2014 and planned to be completed for all eight aircraft in the following 12 months.
In November 2012, Air New Zealand was the first airline to offer all international passengers departing Sydney International Airport for trans-Tasman and Pacific Island destinations fast track kiosk check-in facilities. In a process that takes a matter of seconds, passengers can simply scan their machine readable passports at a kiosk to be issued with a boarding pass and bag tags. Passengers travelling with check-in luggage then take it to the ‘bag drop’ area where staff will check their ID and scan their bag tags to accept them for travel.
In January 2013, Air New Zealand has been named in the top three airlines in the world from a safety perspective. Air New Zealand has been ranked second behind Finnair in the annual JACDEC Safety Index which recognizes safety in the aviation industry, by Europe’s Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre (JACDEC). Other carriers to make the top ten included Cathay Pacific, Etihad and Virgin Australia.
In October 2013, Air New Zealand celebrated a double victory at the prestigious World Travel Awards announced in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Air New Zealand has been voted Australasia’s Leading Airline for the fifth year in a row. Also, its new Koru Lounge at Christchurch International Airport has scooped the prize for Australasia’s Leading Airline Lounge.
In July 2014, after a four-year delay, Air New Zealand received its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. In September 2014, after 33 years of service, the airline withdrew the Boeing 747 aircraft, leaving Air New Zealand with a completely twin-engined jet fleet.
In June 2015, Air New Zealand confirmed the sale of its engineering subsidiary, Safe Air, to the Australian arm of Airbus Group.
In July 2016, at the SkyTrax World Airline Awards, Air New Zealand continued its domination of the Premium Economy category, winning World’s Best Premium Economy Class for the fifth time and World’s Best Premium Economy Class Seat, and coming second in the Best Premium Economy Class Airline Catering category.
In August 2016, Eagle Airways, the wholly-owned subsidiary that was operating under the Air New Zealand Link brand, ceased operations.
In November 2016, AirlineRatings.com, the world’s foremost safety and product rating website, selected Air New Zealand as its 2017 Airline of the Year for the fourth consecutive year.
In 2017, the Spaceseat will be phased out during the refurbishment of the Boeing B777-300ER fleet. From February till late November, all seven Boeing 777-300s will progressively complete a refurbishment, including refreshed Economy and Business Premier seats and the installation of the Panasonic eX3 in-flight entertainment system. The Spaceseat will be replaced with the luxury leather Premium Economy seat already featured on the Dreamliner fleet.
In March 2017, Air New Zealand retired its last two Boeing B767 aircraft. The Boeing B767 flown for more than three decades the majority of the airline’s long-haul routes. Since July 2014, the B767 fleet has been progressively replaced by nine Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, with a further two Dreamliners to be delivered in late 2017.
In July 2018, Air New Zealand won the Best Premium Economy Class award at the Skytrax World Airline Awards, the global benchmark of airline excellence.
In November 2018, Air New Zealand’s first A321neo aircraft entered commercial service. This is the first of 13 Airbus neo aircraft (seven A321neos and six A320neos) that will replace the A320 fleet currently operating Tasman and Pacific Island flights. An additional seven A321neos have been ordered and are expected to be delivered from 2020 to 2024 to sustain the domestic network growth.
In November 2018, Air New Zealand expanded its long-haul network with two new destinations, starting operating non-stop Auckland-Taipei flights and direct Auckland-Chicago flights with Boeing B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.
In April 2019, Air New Zealand won the Crystal Cabin Award for the improvements to the Skycouch product, a row of three Economy seats that convert into a couch that was first introduced in 2011. The Skycouch Cuddle Belt, previously certified to allow two adults or an adult and child to lie down side by side on the Skycouch, has been updated to allow two children to use it. A dedicated infant harness and belt allows infants to lie down throughout the cruise phase of flight even when the seatbelt sign was on, and the new infant pod provides additional comfort.
In May 2019, Air New Zealand announced a firm order for eight Boeing B787-10 Dreamliners, a multi-billion-dollar investment in its international network and customer experience. The first Boeing B787-10 Dreamliner will join the fleet in 2022, replacing Air New Zealand’s fleet of Boeing B777 200 aircraft, which will be phased out by 2025.
In October 2019, Air New Zealand announced a new era for its international network, accelerating its ambitions for North America with the launch of a non-stop service between Auckland and New York in October 2020. The airline also announced that it drops the Los Angeles-London route, a flagship route and an important connection to Europe since its launch in 1982.
Air New Zealand planes were involved in a few fatal accidents so far, the first one happening in July, 1966, when a Douglas DC-8 on a training flight crashed killing two of the five people on board, and the last one taking place in November, 2008, when an Airbus A320-200 on a post-maintenance flight crashed into the Mediterranean, killing the seven people on board. New Zealand’s deadliest disaster happened in February, 1979, when Air New Zealand Flight 901 crashed into Mount Erebus, causing 257 deaths.