After a several decade absence, American Airlines has announced that it will fly to New Zealand again. The new service between Los Angeles and Auckland begins on 23 June 2016.
The flight will be operated by American’s new Boeing 787-8 aircraft. With 28 business class seats in a 1 – 2 -1 reverse herringbone configuration, the aircraft is comparatively light on premium seats.
Award inventory for the new American flight has not yet been loaded, and it will be interesting to what American offer on that front. When American launched its service to Sydney, no saver business or first class award space was loaded. None has followed on that route.
Whilst the exact commencement date has not been announced (updated to add: expected to start with flights from LAX on 22 June 2016), the new service will depart Los Angeles at 10.45pm arriving in Auckland at 6.35am two days later. The return will see the airline depart Auckland at 1.20pm landing in Los Angeles at 6.30am the same day.
The Auckland route follows American and Qantas’ June 2015 announcement regarding their joint venture on flights between the North America and Australia/New Zealand. At the time, American and Qantas noted that “the closer and more integrated relationship also provides opportunities for future growth into trans-Pacific markets not currently served by either airline, such as New Zealand”. The joint venture is awaiting regulatory approvals.
The move also follows United’s recent announcement that it would fly to Auckland from San Francisco starting in July 2016 (which was announced as being in cooperation with Air New Zealand).
Air New Zealand has held a monopoly on non-stop flights between Auckland and the mainland United States, since May 2013 when Qantas cut its Auckland / Los Angeles non-stop route in May 2013. Our last experience in business class on a trans-Pacific Air New Zealand flight left a lot to be desired.
It is expected that American bringing new competition will force Air New Zealand to increase service standards, decrease in fares or both.