The aircraft which flew the London route (Boeing 747-200) was referred to as the 'Ritz of the Skies' back in 1982 because of the luxurious interior and excellent service its passengers enjoyed.

The direct London flight was established due to the ever-growing number of people traveling to the UK on business or to see family and friends. Previously these customers connected with 'BOAC' (British Airways) in Los Angeles to reach London.

"The introduction of a London service demonstrated Air New Zealand's new-found commitment to growing the airline and was regarded as a red letter day for the airline," says Air New Zealand's Group General Manager International Airline Ed Sims. "Today, with daily connections from both Los Angeles and Hong Kong, Air New Zealand is the only airline to circumnavigate the globe from London."

Air New Zealand will mark the special occasion with an anniversary 'Ritz of the Skies' flight, featuring original First Class cabin crew member Denis Eveleigh, who will wear his original 1982 uniform to honour the milestone.

"When the London service began it not only heralded a new era for Air New Zealand by reaching out to the world, but for First Class air travelers it meant they could now experience the luxury of our seamless superior service, from Auckland to Gatwick, and back again," Mr Eveleigh says.

Explaining the atmosphere onboard the inaugural flight, TE2, he says: "The cabin crew were extremely excited to be part of this great journey and we considered it a privilege to work for our country's airline to deliver an unforgettable experience for the passengers."

Messages of goodwill flooded into Air New Zealand on the eve of the first flight to London. The Minister of Transport, George Gair, said at the time: "Good teamwork by many sections of the company has resulted in what will be a first class air service, richly deserving the title, Ritz of the Skies."

The First Class interior featured light blue livery with lemon sheepskins placed as head rests. In addition, Maori murals and floral displays created an ambience be-fitting with the exclusivity of First Class travel. Travelers now in Air New Zealand's Business Premier relax in the comfort of a leather lie-flat seat in the unique herringbone configuration allowing privacy and comfort.

All passengers in 1982 enjoyed up to eight movies, shown on the big screen, via a running video loop. Today Air New Zealand's digital In-flight Entertainment system (IFE) offers more than 450 hours of audio and video entertainment on demand to each individual.

The cost of travel to London has reduced significantly over time, making the long haul trip much more accessible. In 1982, the cost of flying First Class to London was NZD$16,000, which equates to $49,690 today. In stark contrast, fares for customers flying to London today start from $2,549 return Economy and $8619 return for Business Premier First class was phased out in 2005.

In 1982 the Air New Zealand began operating a twice weekly 747 service to London, via Papeete and Los Angeles. Air New Zealand currently flies from Auckland to London twice daily, with one service traveling via Los Angeles and the other via Hong Kong.

ENDS
Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs, contact 09 336 2761

For more information:

Tracey Palmer
Air New Zealand
Corporate Communications Manager
Tel 09 336 3179
021 628 129
Email tracey.palmer@airnz.co.nz

Notes to Editors
Photography and other images are available upon request from Gemma Doughty at Mango Communications, 09 374 0046 or gemmad@mangocommunications.co.nz

NOTE: The content of all Air New Zealand media releases are accurate at the time of issue, as stated at the top of each release. For updates on any changes, please contact Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand is proud to be a member of Star Alliance. The Star Alliance network was established in 1997 as the first truly global airline alliance to offer worldwide reach, recognition and seamless service to the international traveller. Its acceptance by the market has been recognised by numerous awards, including the Air Transport World Market Leadership Award, Best Airline Alliance by both Business Traveller Magazine and Skytrax. The member airlines are: Adria Airways, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Blue1, bmi, Continental Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, United and US Airways. Aegean Airlines, Air India, Brussels Airlines and TAM have been announced as future members. Overall, the Star Alliance network offers 19,500 daily flights to 1,071 airports in 171 countries.

For more information about Air New Zealand visit www.airnewzealand.com and for more information about Star Alliance visit www.staralliance.com.