Air New Zealand trialling single-use cup free flights in continued focus on waste

Air New Zealand has this week trialled the removal of single-use cups on six domestic flights to explore how the airline can deliver your much-loved hot drink at 30,000 feet, without the waste.
28 March 2024

The airline recently removed all single-use cups from its New Zealand lounges, but Air New Zealand Chief Sustainability Officer Kiri Hannifin says doing this inflight is a much greater challenge. 

"Removing nearly one million single-use cups each year from Air New Zealand lounges was a great start, and we've had a really positive response from customers who understand why this was an important move.  But we've got a further nine million single-use hot beverage cups being used each year on our aircraft, plus millions more plastic water cups." 

"Removing waste in an aviation environment comes with its challenges. Infrastructure to support waste reduction can vary from airport to airport, country to country and the need to operate flights on schedule is paramount." 

Air New Zealand is currently in the process of setting new waste targets to support its work towards a more circular economy.  

"Designing and procuring with a circular mindset right at the outset avoids waste in the first place and is the optimal starting point.  We are excited to see how we can make inroads onboard our aircraft," says Hannifin. 

Single-use plastics have long been a global concern due to their impact on the environment. 

"While the airline is very focused on how it can decarbonise, avoiding waste is something it can do right now," says Ms Hannifin. 

"Reducing carbon emissions from flying is our greatest challenge, and we are under no illusion about how critical it is to transition away from our reliance on fossil fuel. However, much of decarbonising aviation is reliant on new technologies, policy support, and sustainable aviation fuel becoming more available. That's why we're also looking at things that impact our natural environment such as waste, which is much more within our control." 

The trial took place on 26 and 27 March 2024 on flights across Air New Zealand's domestic network. The knowledge gained from customer feedback, operational logistics, and impact will help to determine the viability of implementing the initiative in the long term.  

During the trial, customers were still able to experience the much-loved Air New Zealand beverage service, with the airline encouraging customers to bring a reuseable cup or providing one for them to use during onboard service.  


Issued by Air New Zealand Communications.

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About Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand's story started in 1940, first taking to the skies between Auckland and Sydney on a flying boat - a Short S30. Known for its warm Kiwi hospitality, today, the airline has 104 operating aircraft ranging from Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and Airbus A320s to ATRs and Q300s, offering customers comfort in the latest most efficient jets and turboprops. It's a modern fuel-efficient fleet with an average age of 7.3 years. Air New Zealand's global network of passenger and cargo services centres around New Zealand. Pre-Covid, the airline flew more than 17 million passengers every year, with 3,400 flights per week. Air New Zealand was recently named the World's Safest Airline by the Australian rating service, highlighting the airline's laser-focus on safety. Last year, Air New Zealand won Best Corporate Reputation in New Zealand – 8th year in a row.

Air New Zealand has a well-connected domestic business, connecting customers and cargo to 20 different regions around New Zealand. Internationally, the airline has direct flights to major cities across Australia, Asia, the Pacific Islands and the US, and through its strong relationships with alliance partners, offers customers more choice and convenience to connect further afield to hundreds of destinations. Air New Zealand has a particular focus on sustainability and its Sustainability Framework  helps guide the airline's efforts in tackling some of New Zealand's and the world's most complex challenges. Air New Zealand aircraft are proudly identified by its distinct tail livery of the Mangōpare, the Māori symbol of the hammerhead shark which represents strength, tenacity, and resilience.


About Star Alliance

Air New Zealand is proud to be a member of Star Alliance. The Star Alliance network was established in 1997 as the first truly global airline alliance to offer worldwide reach, recognition and seamless service to the international traveller. Its acceptance by the market has been recognized by numerous awards, including the Air Transport World Market Leadership Award and Best Airline Alliance by both Business Traveller Magazine and Skytrax. The member airlines are: Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI and United. Overall, the Star Alliance network currently offers more than 18,500 daily flights to 1,321 airports in 193 countries.