Air Tahiti Nui is resuming flights to Auckland in early May. New Zealand’s biggest city was a longstanding destination for the Papeete-based airline until the pandemic started, when it indefinitely axed the flights. But with fully vaccinated travelers now able to enter and leave Tahiti relatively easily and New Zealand set to reopen its borders to vaccinated travelers from its 60 country visa waiver list, one of the South Pacific’s best airlines is returning to town.
One Air Tahiti Nui flight a week building to three by July
It will be a gentle reboot of flights between Papeete and Auckland, with Air Tahiti Nui initially scheduling just one return flight a week. That will lift to three return flights a week over the normally busy July – August peak season. Beginning Wednesday, May 4, and operating every Wednesday thereafter, TN181 will depart from Papeete (PPT) at 08:45 for the five hour and 45 minute flight over to Auckland (AKL). But because the jet crosses the international date line, the flight will land the following day – at 12:30 on Thursday.
Air Tahiti Nui operates a small fleet of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners – one of which will fly to Auckland. Photo: Air Tahiti Nui
The return flight to Papeete leaves Auckland at 14:30 every Thursday beginning May 5. The eastbound flight, TN182, only takes four and a half hours, but owing to the joys of the dateline, passengers will land in Papeete at 21:00 on Wednesday evening. If you flew Papeete – Auckland – Papeete in one sequence, you could have two Thursdays in the same week – almost like time travel.
Air Tahiti Nui’s fleet comprises four newish Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. With no other options available, that’s the plane that will operate the Auckland flights. The jet flies 232 passengers into the main cabin in a standard 3-3-3 layout. Further up the plane, in what Air Tahiti Nui calls Moana Premium, 32 passengers can relax in the premium economy cabin which has a 2-3-2 layout. Right up the front is business class, or Poerava Business, where 30 passengers can enjoy lie flat beds, albeit with somewhat dated B/E Aerospace Diamond seats and a 2-2-2 layout. Still it’s only a shortish flight and a daylight service in both directions.
Economy class on Air Tahiti Nui’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. Photo: Air Tahiti Nui
Air Tahiti Nui back flying to the USA & France
Air Tahiti Nui is also flying back to the United States, having resumed at least daily services to Los Angeles last year. Each day, at least one of the LAX flights continues onto Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG). The go-to flight to fly PPT-LAX-CDG is TN08, which departs Papeete late every evening for a mid-morning arrival in LAX the next day. After a few hours on the ground, TN08 takes off at lunchtime and flies through the night to land in Paris mid-morning the following day.
In the opposite direction, flying CDG – LAX – PPT, TN07 leaves Paris just after midday every day for a mid-afternoon arrival into Los Angeles. Again, after a few hours on the ground, the Dreamliner pushes back later in the afternoon for a mid evening arrival in Papeete – all on the same calendar day.
Flights between Papeete and Tokyo Narita (NRT) remain suspended while Japan remains closed to everyday tourism travel.
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