Air New Zealand will launch a non-stop service between Auckland and New York using its B787-9 Dreamliner in October 2020 – and will withdraw from its daily Los Angeles-London service in the same month.
Jeff McDowall, Acting Chief Executive, Air New Zealand, said: “While it is hard to farewell such an iconic route, the airline must remain 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.”
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.
Los Angeles-London has been a flagship route for Air New Zealand and an important link connecting New Zealand and Europe since its launch in 1982. However, Jeff McDowall said that market dynamics have affected performance in recent years.
“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 are up against.”
He added that the hardest aspect of the decision is the impact on Air New Zealand’s people who have worked incredibly hard to build the route and to achieve the highest customer satisfaction levels across the airline’s international network.
“Sadly, the withdrawal will see the disestablishment of our London cabin crew base of around 130 people and, subject to consultation, around 25 roles in our Hammersmith sales office and ground team. We will be working with our people and their union to help with the next steps in their career, including looking at opportunities in other areas of the airline.”
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.
The New York operation is subject to final regulatory approvals and crewing agreements.