In a significant move towards sustainability, Air New Zealand has announced the selection of BETA Technologies’ ALIA CTOL (Conventional Take-Off and Landing) as its first all-electric next-generation aircraft. This decision is part of the airline’s “Mission Next Gen Aircraft” program, which aims to introduce commercial flights using next-generation aircraft by 2026.
Designed by electric aerospace company BETA Technologies, ALIA is a battery-powered all-electric aircraft set to join Air New Zealand’s fleet in 2026. While it won’t replace the current fleet, it signifies a crucial step forward in the airline’s commitment to lower-emission aviation.
Air New Zealand’s CEO, Greg Foran, emphasized the significance of this step, stating, “This is a small but important step in a much larger journey for Air New Zealand. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but we are incredibly committed, and this purchase marks a new chapter for the airline.”
He further added, “Decarbonizing aviation isn’t easy, and we have a lot of work to do. We need to accelerate the pace of change in the technology, infrastructure, operations, and regulation. By flying the ALIA, we hope to advance our knowledge and the transformation needed in the aviation system in Aotearoa for us to fly larger, fleet-replacing, next-generation aircraft from 2030.”
BETA’s CEO, Kyle Clark, praised Air New Zealand’s approach to decarbonizing aviation, highlighting their forward-thinking and pragmatic innovation. “Over the past year plus of partnership, collaboration, and diligence, we’ve seen Air New Zealand’s forward-thinking, yet pragmatic and methodical approach to innovation.”
The ALIA aircraft will initially operate as a cargo-only service, in partnership with New Zealand Post, on a route selected through an expressions of interest (EOI) process with airports across New Zealand. So it could be some time yet before we see electric planes whisking you way for that luxury escape in Queenstown.
Air New Zealand has firm orders for one ALIA aircraft, with options for an additional two aircraft and rights for a further 20 aircraft. The ALIA has already demonstrated its capabilities by flying over 480 kilometers in one flight during testing.
Air New Zealand intends to operate the new plane on routes of 150km which will mean a likely altitude between 1500 to 3000 meters. The ALIA is designed to fly at a speed of up to 270 kilometers an hour. A full charge of the battery is anticipated to take between 40-60 minutes.
The aviation industry has a rigorous safety and risk management culture, and the ALIA will only be brought into service once it has passed testing and is certified as safe to fly by the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority.
The airline plans to make an announcement in early 2024 revealing the two frontrunner airports that will host the next-generation aircraft, with potential routes such as Auckland to Hamilton, Auckland to Tauranga, or Wellington to Nelson being obvious contenders.