Air New Zealand will resume direct flights between Auckland and Osaka later this year.
The new seasonal service will run three times a week (Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays) from November 2016 to March 2017, using a Boeing 767-300 aircraft.
With a flight time around 11 hours, the outbound service will depart Auckland at 1025 and arrive at Osaka’s Kansai International Airport at 1800 the same day. The return flight will depart then the Japanese city at 2100 and arrive back in Auckland at 1205 the following day.
Air New Zealand pulled out of Osaka in 2013, as part of its strategy to expand its operations at Tokyo Narita Airport. But the airline said that demand for flights has “significantly grown” in recent years, creating the need for the new Osaka service.
“For Kiwis looking to explore the historical and cultural areas of western Japan, and nearby Kyoto, this service to Osaka will be very appealing. Osaka will also increase the options for travellers connecting to other destinations within Japan and exploring more of the country,” said Air New Zealand’s chief strategy, networks & alliances officer, Stephen Jones.
“With this new seasonal offering, paired with our 10 times weekly service between Auckland and Tokyo on the [Boeing] 787-9 Dreamliner, we’re confident that we can meet the growing demand for travel to and from Japan.”
Japan is New Zealand’s fifth largest tourism source market, and Japanese arrivals to the country increased 7.6% in 2015. In the same period, the number of New Zealanders travelling to Japan grew 17%.