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Batteries included: Air New Zealand announces first Next Gen aircraft

Air New Zealand has announced the ALIA as its first purchase of an all-electric aircraft as part of its Mission Next Gen Aircraft programme.

Air New Zealand has announced the ALIA as its first purchase of an all-electric aircraft as part of its Mission Next Gen Aircraft programme.

The futuristic-looking battery-powered all-electric aircraft was designed by U.S. electric aerospace company BETA Technologies and is expected to join Air New Zealand’s fleet in 2026.

What’s more, the airline has options for an additional two aircraft and rights for a further 20.

Air New Zealand will initially operate the aircraft as a cargo-only service in partnership with New Zealand Post on a route being selected through an expressions of interest process with airports across Aotearoa.

The announcement follows 18 months of evaluation and diligence by Air New Zealand. Through the airline’s Mission Next Gen Aircraft programme, it sought and received ideas and insights from 30 organisations, selecting four partners to work closely with on its goal of launching commercial flights using next-generation aircraft in 2026.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran says the purchase cements Air New Zealand’s commitment to flying lower-emissions aircraft in New Zealand.

“This is a small but important step in a much larger journey for Air New Zealand. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but we are incredibly committed, and this purchase marks a new chapter for the airline.”

“Decarbonising aviation isn’t easy, and we have a lot of work to do. We need to accelerate the pace of change in the technology, infrastructure, operations and regulation.”

“While this aircraft will add to, not replace our existing fleet, it is a catalyst for that change. By flying the ALIA, we hope to advance our knowledge and the transformation needed in the aviation system in Aotearoa for us to fly larger, fleet replacing, next generation aircraft from 2030.”

Air New Zealand ALIA fast facts

Air New Zealand CEO, Greg Foran and BETA CEO Kyle Clark
  • The ALIA has flown over 480kms in one flight in testing. For Air New Zealand’s initial flights, it is looking at routes of around 150kms in length.
  • Given the shorter flights Air New Zealand intends to operate, it will likely fly the ALIA at a lower altitude between 1500 to 3000 metres.
  • The ALIA weighs three tonnes, is just over 12 metres long, and will fly up to 270 km an hour.
  • A full battery charge is anticipated to take between 40-60 minutes.
  • Aviation has a rigorous safety and risk management culture. The aircraft will only be brought into service once it has passed testing and is certified as safe to fly by the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority.

For more info on Air New Zealand’s Next Generation programme, head to airnewzealand.com