Air New Zealand's three new planes will start flying the return service to Los Angeles and London today.
The airline took delivery of its first Boeing 777-300 aircraft - equipped with a new interior - just before Christmas.
It now has two more and the Civil Aviation Authority has just approved the use of the new Skycouch seats in economy.
Air New Zealand spokesman Mark Street said there has been good feedback from passengers travelling on the ad hoc services since January.
Another two triple seven planes will be delivered in the next 12 months.
Each plane can carry 338 passengers.
The plane's interior is officially known as the Skycouch but has come to be known as Cuddle Class for its seating arrangement.
The Skycouch is the first economy seating that allows the traveller to lie flat, or a couple to curl up.
Chief executive Rob Fyfe said there has been huge interest in the new aircraft.
NZ security chief gives insight into earthquake aftermath
The head of New Zealand’s aviation security entity provided some insight into the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake when he was in Canberra for a conference this week.
CEO of Aviation Security Service of New Zealand, Mark Everitt, gave delegates some very human perspective:
Japan may have made us pale into insignificance somewhat, but the reality is this. We are a country of four and half million people and we’ve got to pay for a $16 billion earthquake to rebuild one of our cities. So for us the scale of change is probably very much the same.
I’ve got 164 staff at Christchurch airport, two on maternity leave, and I know each and very one of them now very well.
The earthquake hit just before one o’clock, the early shift was just finishing, a very busy time with international departures for us. The terminal was moderately damaged during the course of the earthquake and our base at the airport was quite extensively damaged. There were no injuries apart from one broken elbow of a security officer who was knocked to the ground in the terminal. ..
There was one air traffic controller killed. She was in a café in the city having lunch, the earthquake hit, she ran outside, she spoke to some people on the street, the earthquake stopped, she remembered her cell phone, she went back into the café and the café collapsed…
Of the 164 staff, 16 of them have lost their homes, totally destroyed, while the others have had varying amounts of damage to their houses. And the aftershocks, like a 5.1 last Sunday night, are continuing to erode people’s properties. And some of my staff say to me, Mark I haven’t bothered to claim yet because I’m watching my house being slowly destroyed by the aftershocks…
This is going to be five years. You think about when you smash a glass, you lament about that for a minute, then you clean it up and get on with life. But in Christchurch they don’t. In Christchurch if the sherry glasses are smashed on the floor, they did clean them up, but now they just sweep the glass into the corner, because it’s going to happen again. And they have little hangars of chairs where they put the crockery and favourite things underneath.
And of course some people are still going home at night to no power and no water.
So here is an old English city, with a very sophisticated lifestyle, and this is what they are going through at the moment.
I’ve given my staff earthquake leave. Who would ever think you’d be giving people earthquake leave? We’ve given then six days leave, forcing them away from the airport; and we’re bringing staff from other parts of New Zealand and that’s going to cost us over a million dollars. We are going to do it over a three-week cycle so that every shift gets six days off so they can go home and reflect on the things that they should be doing in their life rather than coming to work. And they have been coming to work. And the wives and partners of our people have been walking to the airport because they don’t feel safe in the home by themselves.
And now that our badly damaged base is half-repaired it’s turned into a community centre. We have campervans for the people whose homes have been destroyed and for those people who want to borrow them to take them away to get out of Christchurch for a little bit of time.
So there are these very simple welfare sorts of things that we are trying to achieve in the short term. But in the long term I don’t know some of the answers. We are obviously using psychologists to help us with that process…
With the airport itself, the priority immediately from the Government …was to get the airport open again. And security was a very big part of that.
There was water under the terminal… but it was decided within a couple of hours that the terminal could operate again, but in the international phase only. There were parts of the domestic terminal that were damaged sufficiently that it wasn’t good to operate from that location.
So we were operating in international mode, so passengers turning up for flights for several days, because Air New Zealand put 747s at Christchurch and just evacuated people for $50. If you wanted to get out of town, there was a 747 at the airport. If you didn’t have $50 you turned up to a community centre and you went on a bus to the airport and they flew you out on a Hercules. If you had 50 bucks and just wanted to go away for a holiday to Auckland for a weekend, you turned up at the airport and there was a 747 every couple of hour.
3. The sky's the limit for college
An aviation training organisation is soaring to new heights.
The International Travel College of New Zealand has been named a 2011 Asia Pacific Top 10 Authorised Training Centre by the International Air Transport Association.
"To be recognised this way is fantastic for us," account manager Ceri Jenkins says. "It's further recognition of the work we do.
"It gives us more credibility with employees and high schools and other places where we recruit students."
ITC was launched in 1996 and offers full and part-time training programmes for the airline, travel and tourism industries with campuses in Botany and central Auckland.
"A large part of our success is the passion of our tutors – they really do care about our students," Mr Jenkins says.
"A big focus for us is getting students a job in travel and tourism when they graduate – anyone who wants a job after they graduate will get a job."
The Botany campus taught 500 students last year.
A unique airport simulator plays a key part in their success.
"Role play is an integral part of what we do in our courses. It makes students feel more comfortable with their environment when they get into the workplace."
Qantas to cut routes, aircraft, staff ahead of $140m profit hit
QANTAS Airways today said it will reduce international and domestic flying capacity, retire aircraft and cut management positions in response to natural disasters and higher jet fuel prices.
Australia's flag carrier said its second-half profit was now expected to take a $140 million hit from the cost of natural disasters, including flooding and Cyclone Yasi in Queensland and earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand. That financial impact would come in addition to an expected $25m hole from the grounding of its A380 super-jumbo fleet following an engine explosion last November.
Qantas said it was too early to estimate the likely impact of the events on its result for the 2012 financial year.
Domestic capacity growth in the six months to June 30 will be reduced to 8 per cent from 14 per cent, while growth in international capacity will slip to 7 per cent from 10 per cent, Qantas.
Up to four weekly Jetstar flights from Australia to Japan will be suspended between April and August, as will a Qantas service between Perth and Tokyo, along with other changes, including the early retirement of two Boeing 767 aircraft.
Chief executive Alan Joyce said today: "We need to act decisively to respond to rising fuel costs and natural disasters, just like we did during the global financial crisis, to ensure the ongoing sustainability of our business."