Air New Zealand has revealed it will shelve its direct Los Angeles-London service in preference of a new non-stop operation between Auckland and New York starting October 2020. The new ultra-long-haul route will be operated by Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.
Air NZ Acting Chief Executive Officer Jeff McDowall says while it’s hard to farewell such an iconic route, the airline is wholly focused on markets with the greatest opportunity for long-term profitable growth.
“Air New Zealand is strongest when operating direct flights to and from our home base and this reset will put us in the best possible position to take advantage of increasing demand across the Pacific Rim.
“Visitor growth to New Zealand is strongest from North America and performance of our new service to Chicago is exceeding expectations. New York has been an aspiration for Air New Zealand for some time and withdrawal from the Atlantic will free up aircraft capacity to make this milestone a reality,” he said.
Air New Zealand will fly between Auckland and its alliance partner United Airlines’ New York hub, Newark Liberty International Airport, three times weekly, year-round, using its latest configuration Boeing 787-9 aircraft.
Tickets for Air New Zealand’s New York service will go on sale soon, subject to regulatory approvals and landing slot confirmation.
Air New Zealand originated its New Zealand to Europe connection in 1982, but the route has been affected in recent years by “market dynamics”, McDowall said.
“Today Kiwis have more than twice the number of ways to fly to London than a decade ago and preferences have changed. Less than 7% of all airline travellers between Auckland and London chose to fly via Los Angeles last year.
“At the same time, the Atlantic has become one of the most hotly contested routes in the world and Air New Zealand lacks the home market advantages and scale of the North American and European airlines we’re up against.”
The pull-out of Los Angeles-London will result in the loss of Air New Zealand’s London cabin crew of some 130 people, and potentially 25 roles in the carrier’s Hammersmith sales office and ground team.
Los Angeles-London will operate as scheduled until October 2020 and no tickets have been sold beyond this date. Air New Zealand has chosen to announce the withdrawal more than a year in advance to allow time to support its people and to avoid any impact to customers booked to travel.
“We fully expect customers will want to take advantage of the many connection options on our partner networks through Air New Zealand’s gateways in Asia and the Americas, including New York. It’s important to us that customers continue to enjoy a seamless journey, and we’ll be working closely with our partners to ensure the best experience and benefits for travellers,” McDowall added.
On the new Auckland-New York route, Air New Zealand will deploy its 275-seat configuration jet which has a higher proportion of Business Premier and Premium Economy seating. At a flight time of 15 hours, 40 minutes northbound and 17 hours, 40 minutes southbound, the 14,178-kilometre route will be Air New Zealand’s longest and the fifth-longest in the world by distance.
The New York operation is subject to final regulatory approvals and crewing agreements.
Lead image: Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn, New York | Photo credit: Julienne Schaer/NYC & Company