Greg Foran: TRENZ Speech
10 May 2023
Te Pae, Christchurch
Kia ora and it's great to see you all here today.
I pay warm acknowledgments to mana whenua iwi Ngai Tahu here in Ōtautahi Christchurch and the manaaki they have shown to those of you who have travelled from around New Zealand and the world to attend TRENZ.
Over the last couple of weeks, I've been in North America and Europe. I'd have to say it's been very encouraging to hear about the high regard New Zealand is held in as a travel destination.
Any concerns I heard last September, when I visited as part of our inaugural New York flight, about New Zealand being locked down have gone.
And as much as this year's cyclone and floods filled our media, they weren't top of mind for those I've spoken to recently.
Instead, our reputation as a place that's safe to visit, and clean and green is very much intact.
I hope you had a good Air New Zealand flight in. I know I did last night. Flights are generally leaving on time, arriving on time and we are not losing anything in between. That's a real focus for us - being brilliant at the basics.
And no doubt you'll have seen news lately about new uniforms, new snacks and a new baggage app. There's a sense of change and excitement in the business, because we don't want to just restart, we want to restart better.
Today I'm going to talk to you about some of the big things we're doing as an airline to connect New Zealand to the world and bring international visitors here.
But that doesn't mean we've lost focus on the small things that matter to customers most.
Like sticking to our schedule, making sure we don't lose bags, answering the phone fast…and of course, getting the cheese-to-cracker ratio right.
To use a rowing term, we're getting our swing back, and we love that feeling.
Reopening the borders was supposed to happen slowly, but it didn't. You'll recall the starts, then semi-starts, pauses, stops, and restarts again.
Our aim has been to get every available seat safely in the air, even if it has stretched us operationally. We have not held anything back.
Within 14 days of the full border reopening, we relaunched 16 routes. In September we landed in New York for the first time and by October we were back flying to 29 international destinations – the last being Chicago. We're now at 30, having returned to Bali in March.
We've rehired 3,000 staff, bought back our seven 777s, invested in new turboprops and jets to add more seats on the Domestic network.
All with just a few months notice.
Despite all of this, demand still exceeded our expectations – and we acknowledge we didn't get it right every time.
12 million passengers flew with us this financial year – up 144 percent on last year.
Since the borders reopened, we've carried 825,000 international passengers. Around a third of them flew onto our regional network.
Network and capacity recovering
Our network and our capacity have recovered at an extraordinary speed. We're conscious that more seats leads to more affordable pricing.
We're committed to growing New Zealand tourism all year round.
Between March and October, we have 4.5 million seats on our international network.
That's brought capacity back to about 91 percent of pre-Covid and bookings are steady.
Capacity on our North America network is close to pre-Covid levels. We're flying more seats from Houston, San Francisco and Vancouver.
Our New York route is special and has demonstrated strong demand. Later this year our alliance partner United Airlines will fly San Francisco-Christchurch and Los Angeles-Auckland, which will grow North America capacity further.
Capacity on our Asia network has never been better – now at 117 percent of pre-Covid levels. Singapore continues to be key, particularly for connecting to India and Europe.
Demand out of China is rebuilding slowly but surely – and we're back to flying Shanghai daily. Our alliance partner Air China restarted Beijing-Auckland earlier this month.
Capacity on our Tasman and Pacific Island network is also nearing 2019 levels.
We know it's not just about getting visitors to New Zealand but also giving them plenty of options to explore the country.
Domestically, we're back to pre-Covid levels. Over summer, we added 15,000 seats every week. Here in Christchurch, we've added 5,000 seats a week as we fly more often to Tauranga, Napier and Nelson. We also boosted regional flights out of Auckland and to our main centres.
We've carried 250,000 customers on our three new domestic jets since they started flying last year. We also have a full complement of Turboprops which means more flights into tourism hot spots like Rotorua, Kerikeri, Napier, Nelson and Blenheim.
Investing in our fleet and network
We've been open about our plan to optimise our international network.
And it's good to be back in the black, because we're investing $3.5 billion in new aircraft and retrofitting our fleet over the next five years.
This includes 8 new 787 Dreamliners as we retire our 777s over time and 5 extra short haul jets adding more seats on our Tasman and Pacific Island services.
And we're retrofitting our existing 14 Boeing 787s with our new Business Premier Luxe, and refreshed cabins. That work starts later next year.
Our first new 787 is due at the end of next year and will include our innovative Skynest – we have one here in the foyer at TRENZ – check it out.
We'll add Skynest to our ultra-long haul flights, starting with Auckland - New York and Auckland - Chicago.
We're also delighted to announce that Skynest will be designed and installed right here in Aotearoa.
I'm also pleased to announce we're in final negotiations on leasing another 777 – that's another 3,000 seats a week.
Attracting visitors to New Zealand
As fantastic as our experience is, we also play our part in showcasing New Zealand to the world.
This year we'll spend $30 million on marketing campaigns in key markets, targeting high-quality visitors so they choose New Zealand over anywhere else.
We're also rebuilding our offshore marketing teams and adding back presence in key markets.
Our relationship with Tourism New Zealand is one of our most important marketing partnerships. Teaming up makes every dollar go further to raise destination awareness and it was great to re-sign our MOU last year to promote New Zealand offshore.
These partnerships work.
Customer proposition and innovation
Post-Covid, being different will be hugely important.
So we didn't waste the crisis.
We reviewed snacks on board, revamped menus, rolled out more sustainable serviceware, adjusted seat offerings and are transforming our Loyalty and Customer Care platforms.
We're now looking at our award-winning lounges and delivering more value for our most loyal customers.
And we want to be the world's leading digital airline.
Our new app will smooth the journey through airports and give customers more control – from tracking their bag to choosing their entertainment and meals before they fly.
For example, we've been exploring the use of biometrics in US airports.
And our new FlightKeys software provides more accurate and faster flight plans, which also reduces carbon emissions.
As I say to the Air New Zealand team, one point for talking, nine points for doing. So we're executing our plan with precision.
The Climate Crisis is an existential threat to tourism. We need to decarbonise our business as quickly as we can.
In 2020 we committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – we've called it Flight NZ0. It will take every lever we have - including Sustainable Aviation Fuel, flight operation efficiencies and zero emissions aircraft technology.
We've partnered with some of the world's leading aviation innovators to explore how we replace our Q300 turboprop fleet with alternative fuels or technology. Even before then, expect to see an electric aircraft gracing our skies in 2026 as we begin the journey in earnest.
New Zealand is uniquely placed to test ideas, and Air New Zealand is the perfect airline to test them.
In closing, I'd like to thank you for your passion and perseverance over the past few years - and continued support of Air New Zealand.
It's been tough, but the best is ahead of us.
Air New Zealand is doing our bit, getting our swing back and welcoming international visitors back onboard.
Whether it's more flights, more aircraft or investing heavily in campaigns to put New Zealand front of mind, we're innovating and delivering a premium experience for the future customer and our staff.
We can see it in our performance, but you can feel it too.
Just last week I had driven home and parked my car. As I walked to the elevator one of our crew happened to be heading in the same direction. As we waited together, I asked her where she had been and how her day had been. Always a little risky and it was just after 7pm, so we were both a little tired. You're never quite sure what you might hear, but I've always been one for the unvarnished truth.
She looked at me said: "You know, I have had a wonderful day going to Fiji and back. We had an awesome crew, we left on time, arrived on time and the catering was spot on. Customers really appreciate the new food selection, and all Air New Zealand has to offer. So, I've had an awesome day. How was yours?"
At that point, it had just got a whole lot better.
It's good to be back.
Issued by Air New Zealand Communications.
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 AirlineRatings.com, 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.