Air New Zealand is trialling flights to South America with a charter flight for fans going to the first four nations Rugby Championship match between the All Blacks and Pumas in Argentina.
Radio NZ reports the company is watching developments in the region before scheduling regular flights.
. . . But the airline did announce its first foray into South America, with a flight in September using its black Boeing 777-300.
The charter flight will be aimed at All Blacks fans travelling to Buenos Aires for the team’s first game against Argentina in the expanded Four Nations competition.
Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe says the airline is very interested in South America as a potential route in its global network.
He says the company hasn’t yet made a decision about its overall strategy for South America.
Mr Fyfe says the Brazilian airline TAM is about to go through a merger with Chile’s LAN and Air New Zealand wants to see which alliance the new airline LATAM ends up in before finalising its preferred strategy.
When we went to Argentina a couple of weeks ago there were no Star Alliance airlines flying to South America.
The options were a direct flight from Auckland to Buenos Aires with Aerolineas Argentina, Lan Chile which goes Auckland-Santiago-Buenos Aires, Qantas which would have necessitated flying east to Sydney before flying west or Emerites which is the long way round and required a two-day stop in Dubai en-route.
The Aerolineas flight is 11 1/2 hours there and 13 home which isn’t too bad but an Air New Zealand flight or a Star Alliance option would be even better.
Football is the most popular sport in Argentina but we met some rugby fans when we were there who were pleased the Pumas were joining the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies in the Rugby Championship.