February 28, 2024

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Air New Zealand aims to fly electric aircraft by 2026

Air New Zealand aims to fly electric aircraft by 2026

WELLINGTON (AFP) – Air New Zealand announced on Wednesday that it will be the first airline to fly an electric plane, unveiling plans to have battery-powered aircraft as part of its fleet by 2026.

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Airlines New Zealand said it had ordered the ALIA electric plane from US aerospace company Beta Technologies.

Initially, it had to undertake cargo services, flying routes for the country’s couriers.

“We want to be the first airline to fly the next-generation aircraft commercially,” Kiri Hannifin, the airline’s head of sustainability, told AFP.

He said there was no date yet for the New Zealand flag company to offer passenger flights on electric planes.

In May, Scandinavian Airlines announced plans to carry passengers on its first electric commercial aircraft from 2028.

The battery-powered ALIA can be fully charged in an hour and can land and take off like a conventional aircraft, Air New Zealand said in a statement.

A key issue is the distance an electric plane can travel.

The airline said it has covered a distance of 480 km in the ALIA test flight, which is about 12 meters long and weighs three tonnes. Its maximum speed is 270 kmph and it reaches a height of 3,000 meters.

In its initial flights it will be used on routes of around 150 km. Air New Zealand has ordered one electric plane and has the right to buy up to two dozen more.

The airline’s chief executive, Greg Foran, said the purchase was part of the company’s commitment to fly low-emission aircraft.

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He said flying ALIA would “expand our knowledge” so Air New Zealand could operate larger next-generation aircraft from 2030 onwards.