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From the weird to the wonderful and everything in between, 2023 saw Air New Zealand hand out more than 5.7 million cookies, carry critters of all kinds, and transport around 1,900 tonnes of capsicums internationally.

With a full year of unrestricted travel in 2023, Air New Zealand welcomed 15.9 million customers onboard and operated 169,835 flights across its domestic and international networks. This compares with 12.3 million customers and 152,000 flights in 2022.

Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer, Leanne Geraghty, says that Kiwis embraced their love of travel in 2023 and overseas visitors had New Zealand on their bucket list.

“We welcomed more than 10.6 million travellers onboard our domestic flights, a notable rise from 9.4 million customers in 2022. Our international routes also saw significant growth, with more than 5.3 million customers compared with 2.9 million in 2022.”

At 35,000 feet, the Air New Zealand cabin crew delivered 6.7 million meals to customers, as well as 5.7 million cookies and 17 million of the airline’s iconic lollies.

Air New Zealand customers also enjoyed a beverage or two while flying:  

  • 2.8 million glasses of soft drink
  • 2.1 million glasses of juice
  • 1.2 million glasses of white wine
  • 1.1 million glasses of red wine
  • 934,000 glasses of beer
  • 42,000 glasses of whiskey

Air New Zealand Cargo operated around the clock, ferrying more than 30,000 tonnes of New Zealand exports to international markets. This included: 

  • 6,900 tonnes of seafood
  • 5,500 tonnes of fresh produce including 1,900 tonnes of capsicums
  • 2,400 tonnes of meat
  • 100 tonnes of pharmaceuticals and emergency relief supplies
  • 16 tonnes of valuable goods

Air New Zealand Cargo also transported more than 400,000 animals aboard its domestic and international services in 2023. The airline played host to a range of pets, and interesting and exotic animals, including:

  • 324,507 Dogs
  • 708 Kiwi
  • 104 Guinea Pigs
  • 61 Turtles
  • 21 Tuataras
  • 8 Capybaras
  • 8 Geese
  • 1 Scorpion

In an historic moment, Air New Zealand conducted its first-ever flight in te reo Maori in February.

In collaboration with Te Matatini, charter flight NZ 1236 carried 171 passengers from Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington to Tamaki Makaurau Auckland for Te Matatini Herenga Waka Herenga Tangata, known as the ‘Haka Olympics’.

NZ’s East Coast was hit hard by the cyclone in 2023.

In February, the airline set up temporary flights between Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay to support communities impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle. The temporary service ran between 26 February and 10 June, carrying more than 5,700 passengers including emergency workers and contractors.

March saw the reset of seasonal flights between Auckland and Bali, while in June the seasonal Auckland to Sunshine Coast route resumed.

In May, the airline welcomed back its final four Boeing 777-300 aircraft after 855 days in storage in Victorville’s Mojave Desert since the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

Air New Zealand said the final haere ra to its vintage teal livery in August. The last Q300 aircraft donning the iconic teal livery flew its final route on 13 August from Wellington to Tauranga and has now been refurbished with the well-known black and white Air New Zealand livery.

In November, after an intensive designer selection process, Air New Zealand announced Kiwi fashion designer Emilia Wickstead as the partner selected to create the airline’s new uniform. The airline and Emilia Wickstead will collaborate closely before the final designs are revealed in early 2025.

In another first for Air New Zealand, and to support a review of its onboard snack offering, the airline asked Kiwi snack providers to put forward their products, leading to an overwhelming response with 400 Kiwi businesses coming forward. In November, the airline announced the selection of 14 new suppliers to satisfy a variety of tastes.

Air New Zealand also progressed its sustainability efforts in 2023, including announcing in December the purchase of the ALIA, the airline’s first next-generation aircraft. A small but incredibly important step on the airline’s decarbonisation journey.