Air New Zealand has announced significant changes to its long-haul operations above the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The Kiwi airline is cutting its daily Los Angeles (LAX)-London (LHR) connection but will introduce a tri-weekly, yearly flight between Auckland Airport (AKL) and New York’s Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).
Citing the fact that “Air New Zealand is strongest when operating direct flights to and from our home base”, interim Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Jeff McDowall, notes that the route changes “will put us in the best possible position to take advantage of the increasing demand across the Pacific Rim”.
The flag carrier of New Zealand will wave goodbye to an iconic and flagship route between the country and Europe that was established in 1982 – connecting Auckland and London via Los Angeles on a Boeing 747. “Today Kiwis have more than twice the number of ways to fly to London than a decade ago and preferences have changed,” McDowall noted, as the demand on the Auckland-Los Angeles-London route has diminished significantly.
The flights are set to continue for a full year, as they will be phased out only in October 2020.
But as one door closes, another one opens. Air New Zealand, pending regulatory approval and slot availability, will start operating flights between Auckland and New York. The flights will be operated three times per week, yearly, on a Boeing 787-9 configured to accommodate 275 passengers. The return service will take up 17 hours and 40 minutes, as the 8,809 mile (14,178 kilometer) flight will be the fifth-longest route in the world, just an hour and a half shorter than the newest Project Sunrise connection between Sydney (Australia) and New York.
“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”, the airline’s CEO commented on the move to begin flights to The Big Apple.