Air New Zealand today announced enhancements that make Airpoints one of the world's most innovative and attractive airline customer loyalty programmes.

Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Ralph Norris says one of the key features of the enhanced programme is that Airpoints members will be able to book any seat on any Air New Zealand ticketed and operated flight.

"Over the past year we have spent a lot of time talking to Airpoints members to better understand how we can improve the programme. Members were clear that they wanted us to make it easier for them to claim reward flights on Air New Zealand. I'm delighted that after a lot of hard work we've been able to deliver to members the flexibility they sought," Mr Norris says.

From 16 November, Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollars will replace Airpoints as the programme currency.

Able to be used just like cash when booking seats, one Airpoints Dollar will be equivalent to one New Zealand dollar, with members able to choose from every seat, every flight, on every Air New Zealand ticketed and operated flight.

"One of the great benefits of moving to Airpoints Dollars is that even the lowest special fares, as well as children's fares, are available in Airpoints Dollars. Companion tickets will also still be available on international flights at the equivalent of 30% discount on the lowest published fare. So if a seat is available on a flight and members have enough Airpoints Dollars they can buy it. It's as simple as that," said Mr Norris.

More than one million Air New Zealand customers are Airpoints members, with 780,000 of these living in New Zealand.

On 16 November, all members' existing Airpoints balances will be converted to Airpoints Dollars with 75 Airpoints equating to one Airpoints Dollar.

Mr Norris says the conversion ensures that the vast majority of journeys that could have been taken by Airpoints members with their reward points can still be taken with their new Airpoints Dollars balance.

"As well as being able to purchase any seat, 61% of flight redemptions will require fewer equivalent points to purchase the lowest fares and 15% of redemptions will require the same number of equivalent points."

Overall, the number of Airpoints Dollars required at the lowest published fare to obtain the flight redemptions taken in the past 12 months will be an average 6% less than the equivalent number of Airpoints required under the old programme.

"For those members who may not be in those categories, they have three months to redeem their Airpoints prior to the programme change on 16 November - and they can book tickets for travel up to a year in advance, effectively giving them 15 months to redeem their points under the old programme," says Mr Norris.

As an earning rate example, a return flight between Christchurch and Auckland costing 20,000 Airpoints would convert to 266.67 Airpoints Dollars. A standard return Smart Saver fare is available from as low as 172 Airpoints Dollars, representing a saving of more than 94 Airpoints Dollars. Sale fares will provide even greater savings.

Mr Norris says the new programme is designed to more fairly reward frequent flyers.

"Under the existing programme, Airpoints are rewarded based on distance flown, rather than the fare paid. An Airpoints member currently paying around $2,400 for a discount economy return flight to London would receive 26,966 Airpoints, rewarding them with a return domestic flight (20,000 Airpoints) or nearly enough for a return trans-Tasman flight (30,000 Airpoints). However, to earn the same rewards, a frequent domestic customer would have to fly return between Auckland and Wellington 14 times at a cost of at least $3,900," says Mr Norris.

"Many customers told us they felt this was unfair and in a business where we want to reward our most frequent and loyal customers, Air New Zealand agrees. Therefore, from 16 November, dollars spent on travel will be recognised ahead of distance flown. This means there will be greater earning potential on most domestic, Tasman and Pacific Island fares, but lower earning on longhaul discounted economy fares."

Mr Norris says the enhanced Airpoints programme is a further reflection of
Air New Zealand's commitment to being innovative, efficient and nimble.

"For an airline to survive in this fiercely competitive era of air transport, it must always strive to stay a step ahead of the competition, while at the same time delivering maximum value to customers and shareholders.

"Today's announcement is a further signal that Air New Zealand is committed to delivering innovative product offerings."

The enhanced Airpoints programme is the latest in a series of recent initiatives undertaken that reflect Air New Zealand's commitment to delivering a uniquely Kiwi experience and everyday low fares.

Others include:

  • The launch of everyday low Express fares for Domestic, Tasman and Pacific travel.
  • The purchase of eight Boeing 777-200 ER and two Boeing 7E7 aircraft as well as purchase rights for a further 42 long haul aircraft.
  • The interior upgrade of the 747-400 fleet, including new lie-flat seats for premium customers, new seats (featuring seat-back screens) for economy customers and a new on-demand in-flight entertainment system.
  • The appointment of leading New Zealand fashion house Zambesi to design new uniforms for cabin crew, pilots and frontline staff.
  • The use of traditional indigenous ingredients in some long haul meal choices and greater emphasis on premium New Zealand wines.
  • New routes, such as Auckland-San Francisco and Christchurch-Los Angeles.

NOTE: The content of all Air New Zealand media releases are accurate at the time of issue, as stated at the top of each release. For updates on any changes, please contact Air New Zealand.

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 recognised by numerous awards, including the Air Transport World Market Leadership Award, Best Airline Alliance by both Business Traveller Magazine and Skytrax. The member airlines are: Adria Airways, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Blue1, bmi, Continental Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, United and US Airways. Aegean Airlines, Air India, Brussels Airlines and TAM have been announced as future members. Overall, the Star Alliance network offers 19,500 daily flights to 1,071 airports in 171 countries.

For more information about Air New Zealand visit www.airnewzealand.com and for more information about Star Alliance visit www.staralliance.com.