Air New Zealand will add a new longest route to its network map in October 2020 as the carrier connects its Auckland home to Newark. The news comes on the heels of Qantas flying its first test flight between New York and Sydney, a route the carrier aims to serve early next decade. Unlike Qantas, however, Air New Zealand has the aircraft available today to run the operation. The flight will operate thrice weekly on the 787-9. As it adds the new route the carrier will also terminate one of its prestige destinations; service from Los Angeles to London will end in 2020.
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 Acting Chief Executive Officer Jeff McDowall
Air New Zealand has served London since 1982, but the increasing one-stop options between Europe and New Zealand make it hard for the carrier to compete for significant share of that traffic. Today only 7% of traffic to and from London connects over Los Angeles, according to acting CEO Jeff McDowall. Indeed, two of the four longest routes in the world connect Auckland to Doha and Dubai, shifting significant traffic flows away from Air New Zealand’s routing options.
On top of the pressures for the full route the carrier also faces increasing trouble as a standalone carrier in the Transatlantic market. A trio of joint ventures with antitrust immunity operate multiple daily flights on the route and Norwegian also competes. Retrenching to a more protected market makes a certain amount of sense.
Newark will be the carrier’s fifth destination on the US mainland; all five are hubs for joint venture partner United Airlines. The ability to coordinate pricing and schedules for passenger flow via those hubs improves the company’s chances for financial success, though the ultra long haul market is notoriously unforgiving. Still, the success in Houston and more recently Chicago bodes well for the route, so long as fuel prices and the global economy hold steady.
There’s also a likely one-time cash infusion due to Air New Zealand as a result of this move. The slot pair at Heathrow is prime material for sale or lease to another airline.
Air New Zealand will use its “Code 2” 787-9 configuration for the route. The aircraft features 275 seats, with 60 split between the business and premium economy cabins. This is the most premium-focused configuration in the ANZ fleet, helping increase range among other factors.
The flight will block in at 15:40 northbound and 17:40 southbound covering the 8,810 mile route. The distance makes it the fifth longest in the world, trailing Newark-Singapore, Auckland-Doha, Perth-London, and Auckland-Dubai.