CHICAGO – The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) and Air New Zealand today celebrated the inaugural flight between Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) and New Zealand’s Auckland International Airport (AKL). This new service marks the first time Chicago is linked to New Zealand with scheduled, nonstop passenger service.
This new service also sets Chicago apart by making it one of few cities globally to offer nonstop passenger service to the six major inhabited regions of the world: Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America; and now, Eurasia. O’Hare’s newest route is one of a record 17 international routes which have begun at O’Hare in 2018.
“The Chicago Department of Aviation is proud to partner with Air New Zealand to welcome the first flight from Auckland to Chicago,” said Jamie L. Rhee, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation. “As the best connected hub in the U.S., the addition of this new service enhances Chicago’s growing global connectivity. We want to thank Air New Zealand for its commitment to Chicago, which spurs new travel options for travelers, and economic opportunity for the City of Chicago.”
Each new wide-body international service for Chicago’s airports has a significant impact on the local economy, by creating jobs directly at the airport, as well as indirectly in connection with additional tourism. The Chicago - Auckland route is estimated to generate approximately $75 million in annual economic activity for the region.
The CDA and City of Chicago officials welcomed the airline’s CEO, Christopher Luxon, who travelled on the inaugural flight.
“We’re excited to offer our customers a direct link between New Zealand and Chicago,” Luxon said. “New Zealand already welcomes around 340,000 visitors annually from the U.S. and we anticipate this number will grow with the introduction of this new service. With our alliance partner United, service to Chicago will provide customers with convenient one-stop codeshare connections to approximately 100 destinations across the U.S.”
Air New Zealand’s direct Auckland-Chicago service, operated by its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft operates three times weekly. With a flight time of approximately 15 hours northbound and just over 16 hours southbound, the flight is the longest from O’Hare, as well as the longest route in Air New Zealand’s network.
Lonely Planet recently named the new nonstop service one of the most exciting new airline routes of 2019 in its Where to fly in 2019? The 10 most exciting new flight routes list.
The much anticipated route is expected to bolster to Chicago’s growing tourism scene, which hit a record high number of 55 million visitors in 2017. Chicago’s rising tourism is expected to again break records in 2018, thanks to increases in hotel occupancy as well as the airport’s growing network of routes.
“We are thrilled with this major new opportunity and direct service that will further open the door to welcome visitors to Chicago aboard Air New Zealand,” said David Whitaker, President & CEO of Choose Chicago. “Visitors from this region are some of the most coveted any destination could welcome as it is also one of the fastest growing markets in terms of visitor arrivals. We look forward to our partnership with Air New Zealand to ensure that we maximize the potential.”
O'Hare has been ranked number one for connectivity among U.S. mega hub airports for the past three years in a row, based on the highest ratio of possible scheduled flights to destinations served. This connectivity is supported by O’Hare’s sustained international service growth, with the addition of key new routes to never-before served destinations like New Zealand, as well as Ethiopia, Venice, and Bogota—all started from O’Hare in 2018.
O’Hare’s international capacity is expected to continue to grow, thanks to the City and its airline partners’ recently approved $8.5 billion plan to expand the airport’s terminals over the next decade. These investments are a part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's O'Hare 21 vision, designed to modernize facilities, expand capacity and passenger amenities, and enable O’Hare’s future growth to better connect travelers and Chicago to other parts of the world.
For more information about Air New Zealand visit airnewzealand.com