Boom Supersonic would cut Auckland to Los Angeles in six hours on United Airlines

Air New Zealand’s alliance partner United Airlines is buying up to 50 supersonic planes that could cut flight times for transpacific travel in half and its got airports here excited.

United has flown to Auckland for decades – until flights were suspended because of Covid-19 and if it flew its Boom Supersonic aircraft here it could cut the 12 hour flight time between Auckland and Los Angeles in half.

There’s some hoops to get through before that happens – building and flying the aircraft being the biggest.

According to Denver-based Boom Supersonic, its Overture aircraft will be rolled out in 2025, fly the next year and be delivered to United in 2029.The company has already faced delays launching prototypes and developing new aircraft is notoriously difficult.

Overture planes will seat up to 88 passengers and be targeted at business travellers – not a big market for airlines flying to and from New Zealand.It will by some estimates be a third as expensive as standard business class seats and the aircraft will be targeted at the thick routes for corporate travel – the big Middle Eastern and Asian hubs into New York or London and across the United States.

While New Zealand is not a big market forbusiness travellers high end leisure travellers are prepared to pay big money to for premium seats and flights up to twice as quick to holiday destinations would be appealing.Air New Zealand’s premium cabins before the pandemic enjoyed strong demand from wealthy Americans, including movie makers .

With these planes not flying commercially until next decade it is possible that by then – in this work anywhere world – we could also be outpost for more masters of Silicon Valley, tech titans from Bangalore or more tycoons from Shanghai whose time is money.

The United Airlines order – for an undisclosed price – will give Boom a big commercial injection but an important boost in its credibility.Other airlines will now look at the company and the plane is one for its time in the post pandemic world – point flying, as short a time as possible in the aircraft cabin and greater fuel efficiency puts it.

Boom founder and chief executive Blake Scholl said landing a firm order with an established carrier validated his vision of bringing back supersonic flights.

The supersonic Concorde flew commercial flights from 1976 until October 2003.

“The world’s first purchase agreement for net-zero carbon supersonic aircraft marks a significant step toward our mission to create a more accessible world,” Scholl said.

United Airlines chief executive Scott Kirby, who was integral is deepening the alliance with Air New Zealand,said Boom’s vision for the future of commercial aviation, combined with his airline’s ”most robust network in the world, will give business and leisure travelers access to a stellar flight experience,”

A big development challenge will be muffling the sconic boom that prevented Concorde from flying to most US cities and rendered it economically marginal, compounded by its fuel inefficiency and safety concerns following the 2000 crash in France.

The supersonic Concorde had room for up to 128 passengers and flew commercial flights from 1976 until October 2003.

Boom promises it is minimising community noise impacts and ”Overture will blend in with the quietest of today’s long-haul fleet.”It will need that to pass the noise controls around New Zealand airports but Concorde flew made limited visits to New Zealand in the 1980s landing at Christchurch and Auckland airports.

Auckland Airport’s general manager aeronautical commercial, Scott Tasker, congratulated United Airlines and Boom Supersonic on the announcement.

“It’s encouraging to see the commitment to develop and purchase these aircraft – it gives a real sense of the long-term confidence in the aviation sector for the decades ahead,” says Tasker.

“Given New Zealand’s geographic position, supersonic travel would be an exciting future option for connecting Auckland with some of our key tourism markets, like North America. “

Christchurch Airport would also be pleased to see Concorde’s successor back in the city.

”Aircraft like the boom supersonic aim to cut the flight time of long haul flights in half, which will make travel toNew Zealand even more appealing, said a spokeswoman.

”We know for Americansit is the South Island that attracts them to New Zealand, so the prospect of being able to fly there direct into Christchurch in around six or seven hours will be super exciting.”

Aviation is increasingly under scrutiny forits growing emissions and Boom says the Overture will be able to runon 100 per cent sustainable aviation fuels.This fits with Christchurch Airport -the first in world to achieve the Airports Council International (ACI) Level 4 global standard for carbon reduction – commitment to sustainability.

If United Airlines doesn’t want to fly the plane to New Zealand another airline may.It’s worth dreaming about.

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