After resuming flights to Australia in February, Noumea-based Aircalin will resume flights to New Zealand in May. The airline is accelerating its return to New Zealand, with one flight per week from May 8, before increasing to two flights per week in June. Nouméa is the capital of the French territory of New Caledonia – one of the most beautiful assholes in the world. After an extended border closure, New Caledonia recently reopened to fully vaccinated tourists, and the territory’s national carrier is resuming operations.
Weekly Aircalin flights to Auckland from May 8
Every Sunday from May 8, SB410 will close at Noumea La Tontouta International Airport (NOU) at 08:00 a.m. local time for the two-hour, 40-minute flight south to Auckland (AKL), landing there at 11:40 a.m. local hour. After 90 minutes on the ground, SB411 will depart Auckland at 1:10 p.m. and return to Noumea at 3:00 p.m.
By flying every Friday from June 3, you can take into account a second weekly flight with the same flight numbers, departure and arrival times as the Sunday flights. Aircalin uses its only Airbus A320neo (F-OTIB) on the Auckland runway, with the possibility of bringing one of its two A330-900s in high season. Aircalin’s A320neo has 168 seats on board, including 160 economy class seats and eight premium economy class seats.
Aircalin will resume Airbus A320neo flights to Auckland on May 8. Photo: Hervé Goussé (Master Films) via Airbus
Aircalin’s rather good short-haul air offer
This small (and rather sleek) airline might not fly to an airport near you, but it could teach the big carriers a thing or two about their in-flight product. Even their cheapest fare, the economy ticket, includes a free 23-kilogram checked bag, free seat selection, in-flight Wi-Fi, seven kilograms of carry-on, individual HD LED touchscreen TVs with more than 90 programs available and meals and drinks. Of course, this is the South Pacific and what’s cheap is all relative. Aircalin’s one-way fare on the route starts at US$353, so you can reasonably expect a free in-flight wine or two.
Aircalin’s return to Auckland Airport follows the resumption of flights to Sydney and Brisbane in February. However, flights to Aircalin’s pre-pandemic ports of Tokyo and Seoul remain suspended. Apart from cargo and charter flights, Aircalin had effectively ceased operating scheduled passenger services due to border closures in New Caledonia and other ports in its network.
Aircalin has already resumed flights to Sydney and Brisbane. Photo: Hervé Goussé (Master Films) via Airbus
A difficult pandemic for Aircalin
It was a bad time for the airline as borders closed midway through a fleet renewal program. Both A330neos landed in 2019, replacing the A330-200s, while the first of two A320neos ordered landed in the midst of the pandemic to replace an A320ceo. The pandemic has triggered a kind of crisis at Aircalin. The airline applied for a loan from the French government and decided to cut more than US$31 million in annual employee salaries. It may be money for big carriers, but it was a critical drain on the cash flow of a small airline that has seen its passenger revenue dry up.
Two years later, Aircalin has reached a milestone. As more countries on its old road map reopen their borders, more flights will take off. In the meantime, Aircalin is happy to welcome you on board its Auckland flights.
EasyJet cancels 100 flights due to staff shortages
About the Author