Delta To Launch First New Zealand Route

The US carrier has also announced a new route to Nice alongside details of the Auckland flights.

Credit: Rob Finlayson

Delta Air Lines is starting its first-ever scheduled service to New Zealand later this year as competition on routes between the Pacific Ocean island nation and the US begins to heat up.

The Atlanta-based carrier will add flights from its hub at Los Angeles (LAX) to Auckland (AKL) starting Oct. 28. Service on the 10,480-km (5,659-nm) sector will be daily using Airbus A350-900 aircraft.

Before the pandemic, both Air New Zealand and American Airlines offered nonstop flights between the destinations, flying 2X-daily and daily respectively, but American has opted not to return to the market. Instead, the US airline operates to Auckland daily from its Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) hub.

OAG data shows that Air New Zealand is therefore the sole operator of AKL-LAX flights at the present time, serving the route 10 times per week using Boeing 777-300ERs. Air Tahiti Nui also provides a 3X-weekly one-stop service, with an Auckland-Tahiti (PPT)-Los Angeles routing.

However, the lower number of frequencies offered by Air New Zealand, combined with American’s exit from the sector, means that nonstop capacity between the cities is about 49% down on pre-pandemic levels. Delta will therefore be seeking to fill a gap in the market.

More On New Zealand

In 2019, O&D traffic between Auckland and Los Angeles amounted to 195,709 two-way passengers, equivalent to 268 passengers per day each way. The latest figures provided by Sabre for the first 11 months of 2022 show O&D traffic of around 47,000 passengers.

Delta’s entry to New Zealand comes as Qantas prepares to compete with Air New Zealand on flights between Auckland and New York John F Kennedy (JFK). In August 2022, the Australian flag-carrier said it plans to relaunch one-stop flights from Sydney (SYD) to New York in June, but it will use Auckland as its new stopover and connecting point instead of Los Angeles.

Alongside Delta’s planned Auckland service, the carrier has confirmed that a route from Atlanta (ATL) to Nice (NCE) in the south of France will start on May 12. Flights will be daily using 767s, marking a resumption of the route for the first time in more than a decade.

Additionally, beginning April 16, Delta will up its Atlanta to Tel Aviv (TLV) service to daily. Operations between New York JFK and Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) will also increase to 3X-daily from May 25 onboard 767s.