Air New Zealand’s CEO, Christopher Luxon, has put it out there and claimed his airline is the best in the world, and told Travel Weekly recently all the reasons the carrier is killing it globally.
“We’ve done things very differently from other airlines over the past 15 years,” Luxon told TW at the annual TRENZ exhibition in Auckland, which just announced it will be heading to Dunedin in 2018.
“We’ve worked really hard to put the customer at the heart of everything that we do and we take that really seriously, and we’ve worked really hard to be successful commercially and make sure that what we do works well for us.
“But importantly, we’re also the number one that place that Kiwis want to work and you wouldn’t say that of many airlines in countries around the world; that the national carrier is the place people are desperate to work.
Asked if he’s concerned about competitors, Luxon told Travel Weekly he’s really not.
“We’ve been competitive for a long time so we’re used to being a small airline in a global sense,” Luxon said.
“But we are really good through the lenses by which we look at our business to know that we can compete with anyone in the world.
“We compete with the big, state-funded Chinese carriers, we compete with Qantas Group that’s four times bigger than Air New Zealand, we compete with American carriers coming in, Middle Eastern carriers coming in.
“So we don’t make excuses – we want to compete in the marketplace and we’ve got awesome people and great innovation that’s enabled us to do incredibly well.
“By any stretch of the imagination, this probably has to be the most successful airline in the world in terms of our relative commercial performance, our customer satisfaction scores and our cultural scores.”
Talking about carbon emissions, Luxon agreed that carbon offsetting is the best strategy for airlines to follow.
“We want to be carbon neutral from 2020, and so for that to happen we’ve been working really hard on modernising our fleet,” Luxon told TW.
“We have a fleet age of about seven years, with an average age of six years, which means it’s a modern, fuel-efficient, technologically advanced fleet. And it’s the best aircraft we can buy today.
“All of those new aircraft we’re buying are being 20-24 per cent more fuel efficient.
“We then have moved all of our company car fleet to electric vehicles, we’re increasingly moving more of our ground handling equipment at airports to electric, and we’re looking for all those options so we can reduce the carbon in many parts of our business.
“We’ve also looked at alternative buyer fuels and that’s really tricky because there’s nowhere in the world that’s been able to scale up with bio-fuels in a meaningful way.
“But the reality is even with all of those efforts we’re still left in a place where we create greenhouse gas emissions.
“We don’t just want to buy cheap carbon credits in Eastern Europe, we actually want to spend money in the economy and make sure that it strengthens New Zealand,” he added.
Luxon stressed this comes in the form of taking degraded land that’s owned by Maori tribes or local city councils and replanting them with native forests or manuka honey, or regenerating them with economic benefits like an eco-zipline or eradicating pests.
“Those are the conversations we’re in with the government and that’s why I came out in favour of the 100 per cent ETS scheme for domestic New Zealand because I think that’s just the right thing to do,” Luxon said.
And while he was coy about where the airline wants to go next, Luxon did tell Travel Weekly the carrier is always looking to grow.
“Every quarter we look at all the potential markets that we see across the world, and we review them every quarter, and ask how they’re changing and how they’re evolving. And that’s what forms the basis of us then deciding to go somewhere,” Luxon said.