AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND — Batik Air Malaysia, a subsidiary of Indonesia's Lion Air Group, is poised to introduce flights to New Zealand, marking the longest narrowbody route in and out of the country. 

The new carrier, previously known as Malindo Air, plans to operate flights from Kuala Lumpur to Auckland via Perth, beginning in late August.

The Malaysian sector of Batik Air maintains an impressive fleet of over 30 aircraft. This collection includes the 737-MAX, ATR-72 regional planes, and a single long-haul A330-300. Batik Air Malaysia brands itself as a full-service airline, providing both business and economy class accommodations complete with in-flight entertainment and meals. Skytrax, a reputable airline rating platform, has assigned Batik Air a three-star rating out of a possible five.

Batik Air's published schedule reveals that the Kuala Lumpur to Auckland service, with a stopover in Perth, will be serviced by a 737-MAX, which boasts 162 seats, 12 of which are in Business class. The flight from Auckland to Perth will span over six hours, setting a record for the longest narrowbody flight to and from New Zealand. The connecting flight from Perth to Kuala Lumpur is slightly shorter, clocking in just under six hours.

This new flight path will be in operation six days a week, presenting stiff competition to Air New Zealand, which currently provides the sole direct flight in this sector. Batik Air is advertising return flights from Auckland to Perth for approximately $860 USD, significantly undercutting Air NZ's $1432 fare for the same dates.

Presently, Air NZ operates the Auckland to Perth route in partnership with Spanish airline WAMOS Air, a partnership set to continue until late October. Thereafter, Air NZ plans to employ its Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the route. Upon Batik Air's entrance into the New Zealand market in August, it will become the third Malaysian carrier to operate there, following Malaysian Airlines and Air Asia.

In the post-pandemic landscape, Air NZ has been grappling with capacity challenges and encountering intensified competition. This is particularly evident with the resurgent rivalry from Qantas, the Australian carrier. Qantas will soon introduce flights from Auckland to New York, directly challenging Air NZ's signature route. From October, Qantas plans to augment its capacity from a scheduled three to four flights a week on this route, thereby surpassing Air NZ in direct flights offered.

While Qantas ran a seasonal direct flight from Perth to Auckland prior to the pandemic, there are currently no indications of this service resuming.