From the Harbour Bridge to the Golden Gate: Celebrating 20 years of connecting Auckland and San Francisco

It's a walk down memory lane as Air New Zealand today celebrates 20 incredible years of linking New Zealanders directly with the charm and innovation of San Francisco.
30 June 2024

In the two decades since the inaugural flight on 30 June 2004 to the 'City by the Bay', Air New Zealand has carried more than three million passengers across 11,800 flights between the two cities. The route proved so popular that by 2005, the airline doubled its services to six return services per week. 

Air New Zealand General Manager International Jeremy O'Brien says San Francisco has been a popular route for both Kiwi travellers and US customers heading to New Zealand.

"San Francisco is an important city for Air New Zealand and continues to be extremely popular with our customers both as a city to visit and as a stopover point.

"In just 12 hours, Kiwis can swap the sights of the Auckland Harbour Bridge for that of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and visit other local attractions including Alcatraz Island, Fisherman's Wharf, or the Hillard family house from Mrs. Doubtfire.

"San Francisco also plays a crucial role in our cargo operations, with 3,500 tonnes carried annually between Auckland and San Francisco, including high-quality New Zealand lamb and fresh seafood. 

"This supports vital high-value trade links between New Zealand and the United States."

While the route today is operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, it was initially launched using a 747-400 in a special Lord of the Rings livery, which flew the route right up to our final commercial service for the 747 in our fleet on 12 September 2014.

In addition to flying to San Francisco, Air New Zealand currently operates flights to Honolulu, Los Angeles, Houston, and New York with connections to over 100 domestic US destinations with our alliance partner United Airlines.


*Notes to editors 

  • Images can be accessed here.
  • The inaugural flight took place on 30 June 2004, utilising a 392-seat Boeing 747-400, which featured our special Lord of the Rings livery.
  • Since 2004 Air New Zealand has carried just over 3 million people between Auckland and San Francisco route across a total of 11,857 flights.
  • At the time of launch, San Francisco was Air New Zealand's 21st international destination.

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.