In a bold move towards sustainability, Air New Zealand has announced plans to become the first airline in the world to operate a commercial electric plane. The airline has ordered an electric ALIA aircraft from US-based Beta Technologies and expects to launch cargo-only services by 2026.
Electric Plane for Cargo and Mail Delivery
Initially, the ALIA will be utilized for cargo-only services, delivering packages and letters on domestic routes in partnership with New Zealand Post. This will allow Air New Zealand to test and refine the technology before introducing passenger flights.
First Passenger Flights Expected by 2028
While Air New Zealand hasn’t set a date for passenger flights, Scandinavian Airlines announced plans in May 2023 to offer commercial electric flights in 2028. Air New Zealand’s goal of being the first airline with electric planes remains ambitious but achievable.
Fast Charging and Sustainable Operations
The ALIA boasts a fast charging time of approximately one hour and operates like traditional aircraft for takeoff and landing. With a range of 480 kilometers in test flights, a top speed of 270 kilometers per hour, and a 3,000-meter altitude ceiling, the ALIA is well-suited for regional routes.
Commitment to Lower Emissions
Air New Zealand’s purchase of the ALIA reflects their commitment to reducing emissions in New Zealand’s aviation sector. “Next-generation aircraft has the potential to decarbonise our regional operations,” said Chief Executive Greg Foran. “This purchase marks a new chapter for the airline.”
Future of Electric Planes
Air New Zealand hopes that flying the ALIA will provide valuable insights for utilizing larger electric aircraft in the future. They aim to be ready to operate larger next-generation aircraft by 2030.
Airport Selection Expected in Early 2024
The airline expects to announce the airports that will be served by the ALIA in early 2024. This marks an exciting development in the future of sustainable aviation, and Air New Zealand’s commitment to innovation positions it as a leader in the industry.