The reason for a meeting of top New Zealand politicians with the heads of Qantas and American Airlines in Wellington yesterday has been revealed – American Airlines will add new nonstop, B787-8 Dreamliner service between Auckland Airport (AKL) and its trans-Pacific gateway hub at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in June 2016.
The new route, which awaits regulatory approvals, will give customers of American, the largest airline in the world, direct access to New Zealand while New Zealanders will gain more flight options and convenient connections to the world’s top financial centres and cities throughout the US, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America from American’s long-standing LAX hub.
It represents direct competition on one of Air New Zealand’s most lucrative routes, on which the New Zealand carrier currently enjoys a monopoly. Rumours of the development were reported to have depressed Air New Zealand’s share price yesterday morning.
“Auckland is a thriving destination for business and leisure travelers, and it adds to the growing strength of our global network across the Pacific,” said Doug Parker, American’s chairman and chief executive, at yesterday’s media conference.
“We know tourism is an important industry for New Zealand and our new service will provide greater access for more American travellers to visit and appreciate all the country has to offer. Our 100,000 employees are excited to be the first US carrier to offer a truly premium experience between Los Angeles and Auckland.”
Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer, Alan Joyce, said the new Auckland-Los Angeles service, which will codeshare with Qantas, would join together networks on two continents. “Customers can fly to more than 150 US destinations with American Airlines and more than 70 destinations across Australia and New Zealand with the Qantas Group and we’re very pleased to now be adding this new route to the list.
“American’s new non-stop Auckland-Los Angeles service is supported by Jetstar’s domestic connections to eleven destinations within New Zealand and Qantas Group’s nearly 40 daily flights to Australia. When you join our great networks with our new service, customers will be able to fly from Dunedin to Disneyland, Napier to New Orleans and Wellington to Washington,” Joyce said.
The two chief executives met yesterday with New Zealand Prime Minster John Key to present details of American’s planned service that is expected operate on the following daily schedule (all times local):
Starting June 2016
Departs AKL at 1:20 p.m.
Arrives at LAX at 6:30 a.m., the same day
Starting June 2016
Departs LAX at 10:45 p.m.
Arrives at AKL at 6:35 a.m., two days later
American plans to operate its new daily service between LAX and AKL with the newest addition to its fleet, the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
The Dreamliner features a state-of-the-art onboard travel experience including international Wi-Fi, as well as higher humidity and pressurization closer to sea level conditions, leaving customers more refreshed after their flight. Every seat has a touchscreen monitor equipped with up to 260 movies, 240 TV shows, 13 radio channels, 350 albums and 20 games, along with universal AC power outlets and a USB connection. The aircraft is configured with 28 fully lie-flat Business Class seats, each with direct-aisle access. There are an additional 55 Main Cabin Extra seats with extra legroom, and 143 Main Cabin seats.
The flight is a part of American’s expanding joint business with Qantas, which remains subject to regulatory approvals, a statement yesterday pointed out.
Earlier this year, the two airlines announced increased flight options as a part of this strategic partnership between the US and Sydney Airport (SYD). Starting this December, American will launch a new nonstop flight from LAX and Qantas will add a new flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
Edited by Peter Needham