HOUSTON, TX - The other side of the world came a little closer to home Dec. 15, 2015, when the inaugural flight by Air New Zealand touched down at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).
That first flight — NZ28 from Auckland, New Zealand — landed in Houston at 1:15 p.m. (local time) to signal the beginning of five-day-a-week nonstop service. The flight was greeted by a Haka group performing a traditional Maori dance.
“Houston’s global profile continues to grow and our connection with the businesses and culture of New Zealand strengthen that world-wide footprint,” said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. “Our trade connection with New Zealand was already growing — with more than $31 million in air trade last year — and the arrival of Air New Zealand at Bush Intercontinental promises greater growth in the future.”
Recently named the Airline of the Year for 2016 by flight rating website AirlineRatings.com — the third straight year winning that honor — Air New Zealand will use its completely refitted Boeing 777-200 aircraft to operate the route, giving Bush Intercontinental now more than 20 foreign flag carriers providing service to more than 70 international destinations.
“Today, Houston’s reputation as a global gateway grows even stronger,” said Houston Aviation Director Mario Diaz. “With the beginning of Air New Zealand’s service from George Bush Intercontinental to Auckland, Houston becomes the only city in North America with nonstop air service available to all six inhabited continents. Air New Zealand recognizes the opportunity for long-term growth and success in Houston and we look forward to building a strong and mutually beneficial partnership.”
Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says the airline’s expansion into Texas provides a convenient gateway to New Zealand and Australia for East Coast and Midwest U.S cities.
“This week we mark 50 years of flying to the U.S. — it’s a huge milestone and fantastic that as we celebrate this we also celebrate the operational launch of our latest U.S service which directly connects the heart of America’s south to New Zealand,” he said.
Air New Zealand’s Star Alliance partner United Airlines will code share into Houston from numerous North American cities. Air New Zealand also offers nonstop service from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver and Honolulu.
About Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand, celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015, also is set to commemorate 50 years of flying from North America later this year. The national airline and flag carrier of New Zealand, Air New Zealand is based in Auckland, New Zealand, and operates scheduled passenger flights to 25 domestic and 30 international destinations in 15 countries across Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania. The airline has been a member of the Star Alliance since 1999. For more information on Air New Zealand visit airnewzealand.com
About the Houston Airport System
Houston Airports served more than 53 million passengers in 2014. Houston’s three airports — George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby (HOU) and Ellington Airport (EFD) — contribute more than $27.5 billion to the regional economy. For more information, visit fly2houston.com. Get social with Houston Airports by following us on Twitter @IAH and @HobbyAirport.