Air New Zealand has purchased a first electric aircraft for its “Mission Next Gen Aircraft” programme, with the goal of performing a demonstration flight by 2026.

The airline has selected the ALIA conventional take-off aircraft, designed and manufactured by BETA Technologies. The provider also offers a vertical take-off and landing version of the ALIA.

The airline said the first use of the new aircraft would be for cargo journeys, but its route has not yet been selected. An “expression of interest” process is underway, with airports across New Zealand bidding for selection. Air New Zealand said the initial flights would be in the region of 150km.

Along with the single firm order, to be delivered in 2026, Air New Zealand has an option for an additional two aircraft and rights for a further 20 units.