Air New Zealand’s newly-debuted non-stop service to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (NYC) from Auckland Airport (AKL) seems to be having turbulent early days.
Passengers were reportedly asked to be offloaded voluntarily from the airline’s return flight to Auckland on September 25, 2022.
A passenger told NZ Herald that shortly before boarding at JFK the airline called for 20 volunteers to miss the flight in exchange for US$1500 and paid hotel accommodation.
In an interview with Radio New Zealand (RNZ), Air New Zealand chief operational integrity and safety officer David Morgan said that despite the airline’s detailed planning of the JFK-AKL route over the last two years, unseen factors such as “significantly” stronger headwinds on the route than what Air NZ expected.
“As a consequence, the flight has taken longer and in order to provide the fuel load, we had to reduce the payload,” Morgan explained.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) definition of a payload is the weight of occupants, cargo, and baggage in a flight.
This incident comes less than 10 days after a similar weight-related issue on the inaugural flight’s return to Auckland saw over 50 passengers arrive without their luggage.
On September 23, 2022, another return flight almost made a fuel stop in Nadi, Fiji, but was avoided when changes to the route were made on air.
As winter in North America approaches, the airline anticipates even stronger headwinds. Morgan told RNZ that a possible workaround would be to reduce the passenger seat cap on the NYC-AKL flight.
The service is operated by Air NZ’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which has 27 business class seats, 33 premium economy seats, and 215 economy seats.
The New York to Auckland leg is currently the fourth longest operating flight in the world.