Air New Zealand announces further Mission Next Gen Aircraft partners

Universal Hydrogen, Embraer and Heart Aerospace join Airbus and ATR as the long-term partners Air New Zealand is currently working with on its mission to replace its Q300 domestic fleet with a more sustainable option from 2030.
8 February 2023

These partners will work alongside Air New Zealand to accelerate the development and introduction of zero emissions aircraft technology for regional fleet in New Zealand.

Air New Zealand Chief Sustainability Officer Kiri Hannifin says working with the world's leading innovators is critical to addressing the climate crisis.

"Through our partnerships with Airbus and ATR, we've been able to deepen our understanding of the impact green hydrogen and battery hybrid aircraft may have on our network, operations and infrastructure, as well as the opportunities and challenges of flying low and zero emissions aircraft in New Zealand."

"Adding Universal Hydrogen, Embraer and Heart Aerospace will broaden our knowledge of the technologies being developed for potential future aircraft."

"This isn't about selecting a new aircraft. It's about growing our collective understanding to advance a new era of travel. These partners were selected because they are taking action now to progress decarbonising the aviation industry," says Ms Hannifin.

Air New Zealand's long-term partners are developing green hydrogen and battery-hybrid aircraft with between 30 and 200 seats.

Air New Zealand has also teamed up with Victoria University of Wellington's Robinson Research Institute to help the airline evaluate and validate aircraft propulsion technology as concepts develop and mature.

The research institution is a world-leader in developing power electronics and superconducting machines and is currently working on their application to the aviation industry.

"Air New Zealand will work with Paihau – Robinson Research Institute to ensure new aircraft technology can be integrated into New Zealand's future air transport system," says Ms Hannifin.

While zero emissions aircraft technology will help decarbonise the airline's domestic network over the period to 2050, Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is critical in the near term, particularly for the long-haul fleet.

SAF is a 'drop in' fuel which when combined with jet fuel can power the airline's current aircraft. This can reduce emissions for long haul travel and domestic flights while the airline continues to operate conventional aircraft. The inputs and processes used to make SAF result in lower lifecycle emissions than fossil jet, with the opportunity to generate significant CO2 savings.


Partner Quotes


"Air New Zealand and Airbus share common goals on the journey towards the decarbonisation of the aviation sector. Under our existing agreement, we have already determined that New Zealand offers an ideal test environment to develop the ecosystems necessary to support hydrogen-powered aircraft operations. The next phase will go into more detail on potential aircraft design and performance that would meet Air New Zealand's requirements, building upon the long-standing partnership we have together," said Karine Guenan, Airbus Head of Zero Emission Ecosystem."

"ATR fully shares Air New Zealand's ambition to accelerate the transition towards net-zero carbon emissions. Having worked together since 2018 to explore new propulsion technologies and their impact on operations and infrastructure, we are now taking this partnership to the next level. With Mission NextGen, we will be supporting Air New Zealand in every step of this challenging adventure in investigating disruptive innovations to turn our commitments into tangible reality", says Nathalie Tarnaud Laude, ATR's Chief Executive Officer.

"As the global leader in regional aircraft, Embraer is ideally positioned to bring disruptive technologies to smaller aircraft first. Air New Zealand, operator of a large, complex, and diverse regional network, is the perfect collaborator and we're proud to be a part of this initiative" said Arjan Meijer, President and CEO, Embraer Commercial Aviation.

"Smaller, regional aircraft are going to be the first platforms on which new fuel and propulsion systems can be introduced effectively. Embraer looks forward to contributing to Air New Zealand's initiative and adding their expertise and requirements into Embraer's Energia project."

Heart Aerospace
"Air New Zealand is truly leading the way with its efforts to reduce emissions from air travel, and we are impressed by the diligence with which they approach this challenge. We could not be prouder to have been selected as a long-term strategic partner on their journey towards net zero. At Heart Aerospace we say the real innovation is getting it done, and together we will," said Anders Forslund, co-founder, and CEO of Heart Aerospace.

Universal Hydrogen
"We are pleased that Air New Zealand, one of the largest turboprop fleet operators in the world, has endorsed our hydrogen retrofit solution and infrastructure-light modular fuel delivery system. Air New Zealand is a leader and trendsetter in adopting true-zero-emissions technology for aviation and this strategic agreement cements that. We look forward to a fruitful collaboration that will help launch a new golden age of aviation." - Paul Eremenko, co-founder and CEO, Universal Hydrogen

Paihau - Robinson Research Institute
"Paihau—Robinson Research Institute is perfectly placed to support Air New Zealand on their mission to decarbonise flight, and we're excited to continue working together through this long-term partnership. Our team is world leading in superconducting technologies, and we are at the bleeding edge of understanding what it takes to make large electric aircraft a sustainable reality, so we are able to provide that expert advice that will help Air New Zealand make the right technical decisions along its path to zero emissions. Robinson Research Institute has a long-standing tradition of partnering with industries to solve real-world problems. We work closely with Wellington UniVentures at Victoria University of Wellington to realise these partnerships. Of course, being proudly New Zealand-based, it's particularly rewarding for us to support our country's flag carrier on what is ultimately a goal of huge national significance" said Professor Rod Badcock, Deputy Director at Paihau—Robinson Research Institute.


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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.