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Air New Zealand Selects Airports for Mission Next Gen BETA ALIA Demonstrator Flights

Air New Zealand has selected Wellington-Marlborough as the initial route for commercial demonstrator flights for their Mission Next Gen BETA ALIA aircraft.  Cargo-only flights for the New Zealand Post are expected to commence in 2026.

Air New Zealand BETA ALIA Rendering - Courtesy Air New Zealand

On Wednesday (April 17, 2024), Air New Zealand announced that they have selected the route between Wellington and Marlborough airports for their Mission Next Gen BETA ALIA aircraft demonstrator flights.  The cargo-only flights with the all-electric ALIA aircraft will be operated in partnership with NZ post, and are expected to start in 2026.  Air New Zealand announced their purchase of their first next-generation aircraft, the ALIA conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL), from BETA Technologies in December 2023, which will be based at Wellington Airport.  Charging infrastructure will also be established at Marlborough Airport.

In Wednesday’s announcement, Air New Zealand’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Kiri Hannifin, said,

“We are incredibly grateful to both Wellington and Marlborough airports for being so willing to take on a leadership role in supporting Air New Zealand to establish next generation aircraft capability in our business.  Their involvement is critical in supporting the infrastructure required to fly next-generation aircraft, and they'll help lead the way in supporting airports across Aotearoa to make the changes needed for us to fly larger lower-emissions aircraft on our domestic network from 2030.”

Also commenting on the upcoming demonstrator flights, Wellington Airport’s CEO, Matt Clarke, said,

“Partnering with Air New Zealand to host the commercial demonstrator is a giant leap for sustainable aviation, providing the basis for all airports to prepare for the next generation of aircraft technology.  Our team put their heart and soul into the hosting bid and that same energy will now be focussed on getting this service off the ground.”

Marlborough Airport’s CEO, Dean Heiford, added,

“Decarbonising aviation is of global importance, and in New Zealand maintaining regional connectivity through this transition is of national importance.  This is a big step for us on our own sustainability journey that we wouldn't have been able to achieve without partnership. We're looking forward to sharing our learnings with other regional airports across New Zealand.  Hosting the demonstrator with Wellington will further cement Marlborough as an important hub to keep New Zealand connected across the Cook Strait.”

Air New Zealand has ordered the CTOL version of BETA’s ALIA, which includes one firm order and options for 20 more.  During testing, the ALIA has flown over 480 kilometers in a single flight.  In Air New Zealand’s initial flights, the carrier is targeting routes of around 150 kilometers, and plans on flying at altitudes between 1,500 and 3,000 meters.  At just over 12 meters long and weighing three tonnes, ALIA can fly at speeds of up to 270 kilometers per hour, and is expected to be fully-charged in 40-60 minutes. 


Source: Air New Zealand


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