Air New Zealand is ramping up cargo operations to “keep Kiwi businesses connected to the world” while working with the government to maintain critical cargo flow.

General manager cargo, Rick Nelson, says: “With our Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft for example, we have the ability to uplift 11 cargo pallets in each direction we fly. Each of these pallets can take up to 12m3 in volume and up to 4,600kg in weight.”

Cirium fleets data shows that the carrier has 11 in-service 787 family aircraft and three in storage, all of the midsize variant.

On the commercial front, the airline is allowing for the concept of what it describes as “multi party charter agreement”, targeted at small- and medium-sized exporters.

Customers can purchase a single airfreight pallet position on a charter flight. They may also work with a freight forwarder, or have a coalition of exporters and importers combine and consolidate shipments to purchase a single unit.

Nelson says the airline offers cargo customers a range of charter services across its entire network, with the exception of London, and is “getting some strong interest” from customers wanting to ship to and from Shanghai, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sydney and Melbourne.

Cirium schedules data shows that Air New Zealand offered 329 connections between 48 cities in February 2020, across its passenger and cargo networks.

The carrier said on 25 March that it will cut international schedules by 95% from 30 March to 31 May, but will operate limited services to enable essential travel and maintain cargo flow.

It is operating three long-haul services from Auckland, to Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Shanghai. In particular, the Hong Kong service will be retimed to a night operation to maximise connection opportunities for cargo.

Nelson says in today’s statement: “This is undoubtedly an extremely difficult time for our airline with a significant reduction in capacity due to reduced travel demand but we are pleased to be able to keep New Zealand connected to the world in this way.”