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Airways High Flyer Interview: Chris Paul Myers of Air New Zealand

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Airways High Flyer Interview: Chris Paul Myers of Air New Zealand

Airways High Flyer Interview: Chris Paul Myers of Air New Zealand
April 24
09:56 2015

MIAMI — Chris Paul Myers is Air New Zealand’s vice president and general manager of the Americas, UK and Europe. He started with the airline in 1987 as part of the company’s graduate program. In 1999, he was integral in setting up Air New Zealand’s websites and global online sales strategy and went on to lead this area of the business to become the company’s primary distribution channel.

In 2006. Myers moved to Japan to take over the role of general manager for Japan and South East Asia. When he inherited this business it was unprofitable and needed significant change. Upon his departure in 2010, the Japan market for Air New Zealand was growing, profitable and had a world-class leadership team. The airline recently announced new service between Auckland and Houston five times a week with a Boeing 777-200.  He spoke to Airways about choosing Houston as its newest U.S. city, what is the ideal customer mix for the new flight and the airline’s decision to use the 777-200 for the flight.

Airways: How Long Did you Negotiate with Houston to Start this Service?

Chris Paul Myers: We’re constantly assessing new opportunities and identifying key North American markets where there is a desire for travelers to visit New Zealand, and we recognized the greater connectivity options that Houston has to offer Air New Zealand customers. We’re thrilled to be in partnership with George Bush Intercontinental Airport and look forward to a long-standing relationship with Houston and the people of Texas.

Why is Houston Such a Good Market for Air New Zealand?

Serving as the second most-populous state in the U.S. and one of the fastest-growing economies in the country, it is the perfect time to come to Texas. This is a great opportunity to continue to strengthen the ever-growing relationship between the U.S. and New Zealand. The new Houston route expands our reach into a thriving part of the country and also acts as a strong feed to the East Coast, meaning a gateway to New Zealand is now less than three hours away from numerous U.S. cities.


How Much of a Role Did the Fact that your Star Alliance Partner United Has a Major Hub in Houston Affect your Decision?

We have been flying from North America to New Zealand for almost 50 years and our focus has always been to make the customer journey as comfortable and easy as possible. Our expansion to George Bush Intercontinental Airport will open a great deal of connectivity to Texas, Southern and Eastern United States for a more seamless journey to New Zealand. Code sharing with Star Alliance partners like United will allow for greater connectivity for Air New Zealand customers from Houston and other key U.S. domestic destinations.

Who Do you See as the Ideal Customers for this Flight, Both in New Zealand and Houston?

Air New Zealand customers are travelers who want to take advantage of all that New Zealand has to offer. New Zealand’s North Island offers a relaxed, sunny lifestyle of Northland springs from its subtropical climate and the myriad islands, bays and beaches around its extensive coastline. New Zealand’s South Island offers a diversity of landscapes and adventures.

For our New Zealand customers, Houston will offer direct access to the heart of Texas and the American south, as well as open up popular neighboring states such as Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia, and will be the fastest way for Kiwis to get to major East Coast and Midwest cities such as Chicago and New York.

What Will Be the Business Versus Leisure Percentage Mix for the Flight?

While it’s too early to tell, we expect very similar numbers on the route as our current North American gateways, comprised predominantly of leisure travelers, with a small percentage of passengers on the route for business travel.

You’re Flying this Route with a 777-200. Why this Aircraft Instead of One of your 787 Dreamliners?

The route will be operated exclusively by our refitted Boeing 777-200 and we can’t wait to introduce Texans to our unmatched Kiwi hospitality and service onboard.  The interior of the aircraft is fully refurbished – including lie-flat beds in business premier, luxurious leather seats with recline and foot rests in premium economy, as well as the award-winning Economy Skycouch within our economy cabin. Currently, our 787-9 Dreamliners will operate services between Auckland and Perth, Auckland and Nadi, and Shanghai and Tokyo.

This is your Fifth North American Destination. What Does the Future Look Like for more Destinations Here, and What’s the Timeline for Expansion?

Air New Zealand is committed to building its Pacific Rim strategy, opening gateways and forming alliances that make sense for successful continued growth. We’re constantly assessing new opportunities but have nothing further to report at this time.


About Author

Benét J. Wilson

Benét J. Wilson

Mother, Aviation Queen, Veteran Aviation Journalist, AVgeek since age six, number one fan of the Boeing 747 and Student pilot (can't stick my landings). I would actually pay rent to live in an airport. @AVQueenBenet

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