'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,' says McDowall.
Air New Zealand will fly between Auckland and its alliance partner United Airlines’ New York hub Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) three times weekly, year-round, using its latest configuration Boeing 787-9 ‘Code 2’ aircraft. The 275-seat configuration will have a higher proportion of Business Premier and Premium Economy seating. At a flight time of 15 hours, 40 minutes northbound and 17 hours 40 miniutes southbound, the 14,178 kilometre route will be Air New Zealand’s longest and the fifth longest in the world by distance.
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 McDowall says 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,' says McDowall. '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 withdrawal will see the disestablishment of NZ's London cabin crew base of around 130 people and, subject to consultation, around 25 roles in its 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.
Europe, including the UK, remains a significant sales region for Air New Zealand. Currently more than two thirds of revenue generated by its London team is unrelated to the Atlantic route and the airline will retain a sales, marketing and cargo presence in London to serve this market, including after the cessation of its Los Angeles-London service.