After a successful trial, U.S. Customs has approved a new transit system for Air New Zealand passengers arriving from Auckland or from London. On completion of US visa requirements airside, transiting passengers can now access the general terminal area, including Air New Zealand's Los Angeles International Lounge for those who are eligible, without the need to clear security.

Air New Zealand’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Acting Chief Sales Officer Norm Thompson, says the new transit process makes a significant difference to the overall passenger experience for those travelling to London via Los Angeles.

“This is great news for our customers. They now have the freedom to move around during their transit instead of being confined to the transit lounge while waiting for their onward flight,” says Mr Thompson.

The airline is continuing to work with airport authorities in Los Angeles to further improve the current facilitation process.

Air New Zealand customers can look forward to further enhancements to their travel experience when the airline relocates from Terminal 2 to the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX mid next year. The terminal is in the midst of a US$1.7 billion make-over which will culminate in an impressive 180,000 square feet food and retail experience as well as faster boarding and disembarking systems.

Eligible passengers will also be able to relax in a brand new Star Alliance Lounge at the Tom Bradley terminal which Air New Zealand is proud to have been selected to both design and manage. The stunning new lounge is three times larger than the current Los Angeles Koru Lounge and will feature a unique open air terrace overlooking the run way.

“We are immensely proud of the lounge project and look forward to it opening later this year for Star Alliance members, with Air New Zealand customers able to enjoy it once the terminal move is complete,” says Mr Thompson.

In addition to these ground experience changes, Air New Zealand will move to 16 return services per week on the popular Auckland - Los Angeles route during the peak Northern winter period of mid December to the end of January, including three flights on Thursdays and Sundays and double daily services every other day of the week - signalling an 8.7 per cent increase in capacity.

The airline is also making improvements to its Auckland - San Francisco services. Two new Boeing 777-300 aircraft will join the fleet in July and October 2014 and are planned to replace the two Boeing 747-400 aircraft currently operating the daily route. The new aircraft will provide improved fuel efficiency and levels of passenger comfort with Air New Zealand’s award-winning in-flight products such as the Economy Skycouch and Premium Economy Spaceseat.

Also from mid-2014, the airline will begin the refurbishment of its Boeing 777-200 fleet. The project is worth more than $100 million and will see a total of eight aircraft upgraded over a 12 month period and our international in-flight product aligned across the three long-haul fleet types.

Capacity is also being increased on the Auckland-Vancouver route with an increase from three return services per week to six over the peak December - January period.

These schedule changes will see a total increase in capacity to North America of 9.3 per cent over the Northern Winter period.

“As the prime carrier operating between New Zealand and North America and we are committed to offering our passengers affordable and convenient air travel with greater connectivity,” says Mr Thompson.

The number of inbound visitors from the United States is showing a positive return to growth. In recognition of this and the fact customers may want to experience a range of destinations, Air New Zealand has introduced the Air New Zealand Explorer Pass.

The pass is available exclusively to residents of the USA and Canada travelling on Air New Zealand services to New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands and allows travellers to purchase between three and ten flights using zone fares, allowing them to maximise their time in the South Pacific.

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Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs ph +64 21 747 320