Air New Zealand will terminate its Auckland - Los Angeles - London service to "direct capacity to faster-growing markets," acting chief executive Jeff McDowall said in a statement Wednesday. Air New Zealand served London since 1982.
"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," McDowall said.
From October 2020 Air New Zealand will fly between Auckland and Newark Liberty International Airport three times weekly, year-round, using its latest configuration Boeing 787-9 aircraft with 275 seats - a 15 hours and 40 minutes service inbound and 17 hours and 40 minutes service outbound.
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 Mr 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 seven percent of all airline travellers between Auckland and London chose to fly via Los Angeles last year.
"Hotly contested route"
"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."
Mr McDowall says the hardest aspect of the decision is the impact on Air New Zealand's people who've worked "incredibly hard to build the route".
"Sadly, the withdrawal will see the disestablishment of our London cabin crew base of around 130 people and, subject to consultation, around 25 roles in our 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. Air New Zealand has chosen to announce the withdrawal more than a year in advance "to allow time to support its people and to avoid any impact to customers booked to travel".
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 important market, including after the cessation of its Los Angeles-London service.
© aero.uk | Image: Ingo Lang, Air New Zealand | 23/10/2019 10:04