Air New Zealand has improved its rate of cancelations compared with its shocking 2021. Last year, the airline slashed thousands of scheduled flights due to COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns internationally, nationally, and regionally.

Paired with border uncertainty, the airline had taken a gamble and scheduled big in 2021, hoping to cash in on increased local demand. However, with a wave of COVID-19 ravaging neighboring countries and New Zealand, the airline had to scale back its operations quickly.

With borders reopened, demand is booming so the airline is scaling up quick.

Photo: Getty Images

A tough 2021 for Air New Zealand

In the face of uncertainty, the airline canceled over 1,000 scheduled flights between Australia and New Zealand in 2021, accounting for 5.94% of its scheduled services, or 3524 flights. That compares to a cancelation rate of just 0.85% in 2019 and 1% in 2020. This year, things are definitely improving, with the kiwi airline logging just 1.66% of flights canceled in October 2022.

Aviation commentator, Irene King, emphasized the struggle the airline faced during COVID-19 restrictions. Auckland was effectively in lockdown while the rest of the country was not, and with the airline’s base being at Auckland International Airport, it certainly put a spanner in the works for the airline’s operations.

Before COVID-19, the airline averaged 0.85% of canceled flights across its network.

Air New Zealand is bringing its 777's back into service.

Photo: Getty Images

Compared with airlines across the ditch

Air New Zealand is usually regarded as very reliable compared to its Australian counterparts for canceled services.

For October 2022, Australian heavyweight Qantas canceled approximately 1.9% of its scheduled services. Low-cost offshoot Jetstar axed 1.86% of flights, compared with Brisbane-based Virgin Australia, which ended up canceling 2.15% of its flights. Compared with the year earlier (2021), Qantas was forced to cancel 4.7% of services, Jetstar canceled 6.38%, and Virgin Australia axed 2.36% of its scheduled flights.

Given that reliability is returning, COVID-19 is still affecting the business, which is still returning aircraft to its fleet. Chief Operating Officer at Air New Zealand, Alex Marren,​ commented:

“We’ve worked hard to bring our cancelation rate down from this year’s winter peak. This includes hiring more aircrew and ground staff, and bringing on more aircraft to boost capacity – whether that’s through new Airbus A321s, reviving our Boeing 777s, or doing a wet lease with Wamos Air.”

Air New Zealand has improved its cancellation rate in 2022. Refreshed and revamped service

The airline has been focussing on getting its ‘mojo’ back post-pandemic. It plans to revitalize its business class and premium economy cabin, move selected seats-to-suit destinations into its long-haul service offering, and lift its onboard experience through new menu designs. Alex Marren mentioned:

“We know every cancelation has an impact on our customers, so we do everything we can to ensure it’s a last resort. As we head into the warmer months, we’re hopeful for smoother skies, but we’re having to caveat this given how busy our schedule will be over summer and that disruptions can happen out of the blue.”

Restrictions in New Zealand have eased substantially in recent months. Now, effectively with an open border, the airline is focused on recruiting new crew, revamping aircraft, and growing its fleet to handle the booming demand.


  • Air New Zealand, Boeing 787, Paint issue

    Air New Zealand

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Auckland Airport, Christchurch Airport, Wellington Airport

    Year Founded:

    Star Alliance

    Greg Foran

    New Zealand


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