The 1940s were dominated by the war effort, with many future airline pilots gaining training in combat. The very first TEAL flight took to the skies in 1940, connecting Kiwis to the world in a whole new way. The decade also heralded the advent of stewardesses on board.
Despite flying still being seen as an expensive luxury or unavoidable necessity, both TEAL and NAC grew during the 1950s. TEAL became known for their legendary Coral Route flight path, which provided a luxurious tour of the beautiful Pacific Islands by flying boat and attracted many wealthy Americans to our part of the world.
By the beginning of the decade, five million domestic passengers had flown with NAC, reflecting a real change in the way people viewed air travel. The 60s were the dawn of the jet age for TEAL and the beginning of a new identity, with a name change to Air New Zealand in 1965. And of course Beatlemania hit the country in 1964, when the Beatles stepped off a TEAL aircraft at Wellington Airport to a massive crowd of waiting Kiwis.
The 70s saw the introduction of the iconic Koru logo,the historic merger of NAC and Air New Zealand, the adoption of computerisation, and the darkest time in Air New Zealand’s history –the Erebus tragedy that rocked the nation.
The introduction of the first 747-200s in 1981 signalled the beginning of the Jumbo era for Air New Zealand. The three storey high aircraft realised opportunities in international cargo like never before, and gave passengers and crew an altogether different experience due to the scale and capacity of the planes. Air New Zealand could stretch its wings once again, this time reaching even further around the globe.
The 90s kicked off to an exciting start with the arrival of the first Boeing 747-400 in 1992 and a whole new uniform to match, but theill-fated decision to acquire half of Ansett in 1995 meant the decadeended with Air New Zealand battling for control of the Australian airline.
The beginning of the new millennium was a difficult one, with wrangling over Ansett and increasing fuel prices. But a new vision for the future and some big changes saw Air New Zealand’s fortunes transform for the better before the decade was out.