When I first left New Zealand, 30 years ago this week, I had a one way ticket to Britain with several stops en route.
By the time I got there I’d flown Air New Zealand, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Air Alitalia and British Airways.
Coming home I flew Air New Zealand and Air France.
Since then I’ve used most of them again plus, Air Pacific, Garuda, Aerolineas Argentinas, Lan Chile, United, Air Canada, Thai Airways, Lufthansa, Spanair, British Midland and a few smaller ones whose names – perhaps mercifully – I’ve forgotten.
The only one I wouldn’t use again is Garuda, though Air Canada’s service on a flight from Vancouver to Honolulu last year was sub-optimal.
The one I’d choose to use where possible is Air New Zealand. I’ve had only one bad experience – poor communication over a delayed flight to Fiji – and lots of very good ones with them.
Of course parochialism might have something to do with my preference but Air New Zealand has been recognised as airline of the year.
Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key has congratulated Air New Zealand on again being named Airline of the Year by ‘Air Transport World’ magazine.
“Air New Zealand was named Airline of the Year in January 2010, and to gain this honour twice in three years is an outstanding achievement,” says Mr Key.
“The award is for Air New Zealand’s industry-leading innovation and motivation of its staff, which has resulted in exceptional performance in many areas, such as customer service, operational safety, and financial performance.
“The award is an acknowledgement of the hard work the airline’s staff and management have put into the company.
“Air New Zealand is a vital part of our tourism infrastructure. Often, the first experience incoming visitors have of New Zealand is with the national carrier, and those first impressions count.
Most foreigners travel very long distances to get here. Even if they don’t use Air New Zealand for international flights many will for internal travel. Having an airline which is top for service and safety is good for them and our reputation as a tourist destination.