The service also means additional tourism potential for New Zealand, opening up opportunities to attract customers out of the greater North West USA.

Utilising a 392 seat Boeing 747-400, Air New Zealand will initially operate three services a week, code sharing with Star Alliance partner United Airlines, departing on a Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The services operate as evening departures from both ports, with the 12 hour flight arriving around midday in San Francisco and early morning into Auckland.

To launch the new service, Air New Zealand is offering a $999 Economy Class return fare on sale for one week from today until 3 February, for travel any time from 30 June to 27 November 2004. Business Class fares are on sale at $3999 return and First Class for $6999.

Several thousand seats are available at this special introductory level.

"The introduction of a second direct destination on the US West Coast provides an important option for travellers to the region and beyond," said Air New Zealand Managing Director and CEO Ralph Norris.

"Air New Zealand has recognised the importance of the US West Coast since we first began flying DC8 aircraft into Los Angeles in 1965. Over the years our presence in California has grown substantially and we now carry more than 490,000 passengers to LA from New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and the United Kingdom each year".

"We are one of the largest non-North American carriers into LA and employ 175 people there. Air New Zealand recognised that future growth was available to the region but to do so we required a new destination. With that in mind San Francisco was an obvious option".

"The city has an extensive and well developed tourism industry, backed with the support of a new airport and an impressive public transport system which makes a trip to the region an easy one," said Mr Norris.

San Francisco is the first new international destination for Air New Zealand since 1995 when it commenced flights into Fukuoka, Japan. San Francisco becomes the 21st destination in the airline's international network.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has given his full support to the initiative.

"I am very pleased that Air New Zealand has chosen San Francisco as a point of destination and I look forward to the inaugural flight on 30 June".

"Thank you Air New Zealand and to Ralph Norris and the team for choosing San Francisco. This is a beautiful city of extraordinary vibrancy and diversity. You won't be disappointed."

The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau has been working closely with Air New Zealand for some time to get a direct service introduced to the city.

"This new non stop service is great news for San Francisco and long awaited on the both sides of the Pacific," said San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau Vice President Tourism, Deborah Reinow.

"While New Zealanders have long been fans of San Francisco, and vice versa, this new service will definitely encourage increased travel. We couldn't be more delighted."

San Francisco Airport Director John Martin has welcomed Air New Zealand's plans.

"Our airport is poised to make the travel experience for passengers a pleasant, memorable and hassle-free experience. Northern California's fascination for all things New Zealand will only be enhanced by this efficient new service."

As well as a destination in itself, the new services to San Francisco also offer good connections with United Airlines flights, including code sharing on a number of key domestic routes such as Dallas, Chicago and New York. Connections to Europe are also favourable through United Airlines, Lufthansa and others as well as to Canada with Air Canada.

"As United's largest international hub, San Francisco is a natural gateway to and from the Pacific Rim," said Graham Atkinson, Senior Vice President Worldwide Sales and Alliance, United Airlines.

"From this Pacific gateway, United offers service to more domestic U.S. and international destinations than any other carrier. We look forward to offering our customers even greater choice and convenience in travel through our code share with Air New Zealand on their new Auckland to San Francisco service."

United Airlines is the largest carrier in San Francisco with 146 daily departures, accounting for more than 50% of passengers enplaned at San Francisco.

Inbound tourism opportunities for New Zealand as a result of the new service are also significant.

"There are more than 60,000 seats available on the new service each way per year, so some considerable potential exists," said Mr Norris.

"Both the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau and Tourism New Zealand fully support this initiative and we look forward to working with all parties to make this service a success at either destination."

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton welcomed the announcement of Air New Zealand's new services from San Francisco.

"This market is very important to New Zealand. The US is the third-largest tourism market and the second-largest foreign exchange earner for New Zealand.

"We know that New Zealand appeals to those living on the West Coast, and particularly Californians. This development is particularly timely given Tourism New Zealand's expanded marketing campaign in the US.

"The New Zealand government recently allocated an extra NZ$15 million for marketing in the United States over the next three years. As part of this, Tourism New Zealand is launching a series of 100% Pure New Zealand outdoor and television advertising in San Francisco in February," Mr Hickton said.

Regular fare pricing for the new Auckland to San Francisco service will be similar to year round Auckland to Los Angeles fare levels.

Flight Schedule

Wednesday and Sunday

  • NZ8 Auckland to San Francisco Depart 6.50pm Arrive 11.50am same day.
  • NZ7 San Francisco to Auckland Depart 9.45pm Arrive 5.30am plus two days.

Friday

  • NZ8 Auckland to San Francisco Depart 7.40pm Arrive 12.40pm the same day.
  • NZ7 San Francisco to Auckland Depart 9.45pm Arrive 5.30am plus two days.

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.