US major American Airlines will add a new non-stop service between its Transpacific gateway hub at Los Angeles International Airport and Auckland Airport from June 2016, pending regulatory approvals. The oneworld carrier has added six new Transpacific routes over the last three years, nearly doubling its presence in the region as it has strengthened its joint business with Qantas Airways.
The new daily flight is scheduled to commence in June 2016 and will be operated with a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner configured with 28 fully lie-flat Business Class seats, 55 Main Cabin Extra seats and 143 Main Cabin Economy seats.
The flight will be operated as part of American's joint business with Qantas, which remains subject to regulatory approvals. Through their enhanced relationship, American and Qantas intend to provide increased connectivity to markets beyond their key gateways. American Airlines last served New Zealand in April 1991, operating Dallas – Honolulu – Auckland route three times weekly with a Douglas DC-10.
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Earlier this year, the two airlines announced increased options between the US and Sydney Airport with American launching a new non-stop flight from Los Angeles, and Qantas adding a new flight from San Francisco, both beginning in December.
"Auckland is a thriving destination for business and leisure travellers, and it adds to the growing strength of our global network across the Pacific," said Doug Parker, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, American Airlines. "We've seen a strong increase for demand from US customers who need more non-stop access to New Zealand. We are excited to be the first US carrier to offer a truly premium experience between Los Angeles and Auckland."
The partnership with Qantas will help support the point-to-point demand at each end of the route, while American’s strong network at Los Angeles will provide both domestic and international flight options. The route will also be supported by Jetstar's domestic connections to eleven destinations within New Zealand and Qantas Group's nearly 40 daily flights to Australia.
The Los Angeles – Auckland city pair is currently operated by Air New Zealand with a continuation service also on offer from the US city to London Heathrow, while Qantas previously served the market up until 2012. There is a sizeable demand of just under 400 passengers per day on the route, according to Sabre O&D traffic data with average one-way fares in excess of $1000 in each direction.