More than 150 young Cantabrians experienced some early Christmas cheer today with a special festive flight operated by Air New Zealand.
The airline turned one of its Boeing 777-200ER aircraft into a unique Christmas “sleigh” for the children of Christchurch, gifting them a special scenic flight down to the majestic Aoraki Mt Cook area and back.
Face-painted children mingled with elves and fairies before making their way up the tinsel-decorated stairs to the aircraft for the special one-hour excursion. For many of the 150 young Cantabrians it was their first experience of flying, and they got to enjoy it with their parent or guardian by their side.
Surprises on board included the 31-strong Christchurch City Chorus singing carols throughout the flight and an unexpected drop-in from Santa and six little helpers who distributed sack-loads of sweets and other goodies.
Air New Zealand Chief Pilot Captain David Morgan piloted the flight, and those travelling today had the rare opportunity to accompany him on his pre-flight walk around the aircraft.
Air New Zealand worked with several media partners including The Press, Classic Hits and Newstalk ZB Christchurch to help gift the seats to Canterbury families. More than 1000 entries were received for the flight, which departed from Air New Zealand’s Technical Operations base near Christchurch airport at 12.45pm.
Air New Zealand also filled the Business Premier cabin at the front of the aircraft with children selected by Koru Care. They particularly enjoyed trying out the lie-flat beds.
A number of Air New Zealand’s business partners jumped in to support the flight -Energy supplier Z provided the fuel while Christchurch International Airport waived the landing fees.
The opportunity for Christmas Cheer in the Air came about due to the 777-200ER being on a day’s layover in Christchurch, with Captain Morgan saying the airline was keen to grab the opportunity to do something special for the community in the lead-up to Christmas.