Air New Zealand’s inaugural flight to Houston touched down today at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
NZ28 departed Auckland at 6:30pm last night and arrived in Houston around 1:15pm local time. The flight, operated by a Boeing 777-200 aircraft, was welcomed to Houston with a performance on the tarmac by a kapa haka group made up of Air New Zealand staff.
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.”
Air New Zealand’s Star Alliance partner United Airlines, which has a large Houston-based hub, will code share into Houston from numerous North American cities. A global gateway city, Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) provides nonstop service to nearly 200 airports around the globe (113 domestic U.S. destinations).
Houston Mayor Annise Parker says Houston’s global profile continues to grow and this is further strengthened by this new direct link with the businesses and culture of New Zealand.
“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 George Bush Intercontinental promises greater growth in the future.”
Houston Aviation Director Mario Diaz says the city’s reputation as a global gateway continues to grow stronger with the arrival of Air New Zealand to Houston.
“The new service between George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Auckland enhances Houston’s status as a true global gateway city, with one of the strongest international route networks found anywhere in North America. We look forward to building a strong and mutually beneficial partnership with Air New Zealand.”
Air New Zealand will fly between Houston and Auckland up to five times per week, operating its fully-refurbished Boeing 777-200ER. The aircraft features the airline’s award-winning Economy Skycouch(TM), comfortable ink-colored luxury leather seats with leg rests in Premium Economy, and lie-flat beds in Business Premier.
With the addition of Houston, Air New Zealand offers direct service to New Zealand from five North American gateways, also including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver and Honolulu.
Today’s arrival into Houston rounds out a busy month for the airline which has also operated its first scheduled South American service to Buenos Aires and celebrated the launch of its alliance with Air China with an inaugural Auckland – Beijing service – and last month announced a new seasonal service to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
The inaugural flight from Houston to Auckland departs today at 8:25pm local time.