Boeing 777 ZK OKE. Photo: Air New Zealand

MIAMI — Air New Zealand will launch five weekly flights to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport this December. The flights will be operated with a completely refitted Boeing 777-200.

Back in November, ANZ said that it was planning to add a new U.S. destination with its new Dreamliners, and in particular, the airline was eyeing Chicago, Houston, and Las Vegas. However, Chicago and Houston were the front runners since both are hubs its Star Alliance partner, United Airlines, which would offer greater connection options.

Ultimately, Houston won the battle, and it will provide strong connecting options to the east coast of the United States, Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, and South America

“We are thrilled to open service to Houston and share our Kiwi spirit and award-winning service with The Lone Star State and beyond. This expands our reach into a thriving part of the country and also acts as a great feed to the East Coast, meaning a gateway to New Zealand is now less than three hours away from numerous U.S. cities. We’re also excited about the prospect of bringing New Zealanders to Texas and other southern and eastern states via Houston.”

“We have been flying from North America to New Zealand for almost 50 years and our focus has always been to make the journey as comfortable and easy for our customers as possible.”

Houston Mayor Annise Parker welcomed the announcement.  “The City of Houston continues to enhance its status as a global gateway city, with nonstop flight service to almost 200 airports located all around the globe.  The arrival of New Zealand’s national air carrier to George Bush Intercontinental Airport is a tremendous step forward in expanding Houston’s level of connectivity even further.”

ANZ currently operates 15 flights a week to Los Angeles and seven flights a week to San Francisco from Auckland, NZ. The airline also serves Hawaii and Vancouver in North America.

Not the First Time An Airline Announced Houston-New Zealand Flights

Before Continental and United merged, Continental announced that it intended to launch flights between Houston and Auckland once it took delivery of the Boeing 787 Dreamliners it had on order. However due to delivery delays, the Boeing 787 would arrive a few years late and at a time that the two carriers began merging.

Before United even took delivery of the 787s, a war in Houston was brewing surrounding if the City of Houston would approve the request and support the addition of an international concourse at Houston Hobby. Unfortunately, Jeff Smisek, the CEO of United, threatened the route saying it would cancel it if Hobby would get approved for international service.

Despite Smisek’s threat in hopes of blocking Hobby from becoming an international airport, the City of Houston approved, and United cancelled plans to launch Houston-Auckland flights.