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Why New Zealand Is Perfect For Testing Low-Carbon Aircraft


  • Christchurch Airport is positioning itself as a prime candidate for testing and establishing a base for hydrogen aircraft.
  • New Zealand has the potential to lead the testing of Airbus’ low-carbon vision for hydrogen-powered aircraft due to its renewable electricity and water resources, the size of aircraft used, and flight routes flown.
  • Air New Zealand is committed to decarbonizing its operations and sees green hydrogen-fueled aircraft as a potential solution. The plan’s success will require scaling up affordable new-generation energy, government support through policies and regulations, and developing viable hydrogen supply and distribution systems.

Christchurch Airport looks to be a prime candidate for testing and establishing a base for hydrogen aircraft. A consortium of six businesses, including Airbus, the nation’s carrier Air New Zealand, Christchurch Airport (CHC), Fortescue, Hiringa Energy, and Fabrum, have examined the supply chain since February and evaluated the aviation market’s projected hydrogen requirements.

Looking at what it would take for hydrogen-powered aviation to succeed in New Zealand, the latest announcement is the first step in the ‘right’ direction to support further its evidence for the New Zealand government to grow ‘green hydrogen’ plans at the South Island airport.

Airbus Zero E Formation

Photo: Airbus

Vice President of Airbus’s ZEROe Ecosystem, Karine Guenan, reiterated New Zealand’s prime position to lead the testing of Airbus’ envisaged low-carbon vision, advising,

“The country’s large potential renewable electricity and water resources are key advantages while the size of aircraft used here and the length of routes flown match the capabilities of hydrogen-powered aircraft. This report lays out the ecosystem required to make that happen. It is a first step, and Airbus is committed to leveraging our expertise to work with government, iwi, industries, and other stakeholders to bring it to life.”

Air New Zealand is committed

The nation’s flag carrier, which operates its second-largest base at Christchurch International Airport, had Chief Sustainability Officer Kiri Hannifin highlight the latest report on how hydrogen aviation in New Zealand could take flight:

“Air New Zealand is committed to decarbonizing its operations. Green hydrogen-fuelled aircraft is one of the potential levers available to us. This report provides important proof points for both the aviation sector and decision-makers to work together to make that happen.”

Christchurch Airport Air NZ Gates

Photo: NigelSpiers / Shutterstock

For the plan to come to fruition, the airport and government will need to scale up affordable new generation energy, encourage the production of green hydrogen, develop sufficient distribution capacity to regions across the nation, have the government develop and pass policies to support regulation of the green hydrogen ecosystem and ensure the development and supply of hydrogen is viable.

The consortium has noted that should the modeling be correct, up to 100,000 tonnes of green hydrogen will be required for aircraft by 2050, with the majority needed at Christchurch, Wellington (WLG), and Auckland (AKL), New Zealand’s three busiest airports.

Kōwhai Park

Christchurch Airport has already put aside 400 hectares on the western side of the runway destined for renewable energy generation. A plan to develop a solar farm named Kōwhai Park will eventually generate 150 megawatts, totaling 290 GWH annually. Phase one of the program is set to commence in 2024.

Kowhai Park

Photo: Christchurch Airport

Further research by Christchurch Airport and its partners have identified that the total fuel consumed by air travel in 2019 was 203 million liters (53,626,926 gallons). Domestic travel consumed 36%, trans-Tasman at 38%, and long-haul international at 30%. The airport noted that should zero-emission alternatives replace this fuel, it could equate to a total annual reduction of 400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Sources: H2aviation Consortium, Christchurch Airport, New Zealand Herald

  • rsz_airbus_50th_years_anniversary_formation_flight_-_air_to_air


    Stock Code:

    Business Type:

    Date Founded:

    Guillaume Faury

    Headquarters Location:
    Toulouse, France

    Key Product Lines:
    Airbus A220, Airbus A320, Airbus A330, Airbus A340, Airbus A350, Airbus A380

  • Air New Zealand, Boeing 787, Paint issue

    Most of the missing bags found their way back from New York to Auckland via Los Angeles. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

    Air New Zealand

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Auckland Airport, Christchurch Airport, Wellington Airport

    Year Founded:

    Star Alliance

    Greg Foran

    New Zealand


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