American Airlines will launch new services from Auckland to Dallas-Fort Worth and break new ground with flights between Christchurch and Los Angeles.
Flights by the airline, one of the world’s largest, is a big play and will boost competition in non-stop flying across the Pacific as other airlines are also flying to new destinations and boosting capacity.
American will launch the new three-times a week seasonal services from next October.
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The airline has operated Dreamliner flights from Auckland to Los Angeles since 2016 and the Dallas-Fort Worth flights will be in addition to those summer services (also three times a week) and pit the airline up against Air New Zealand. Since 2015 the Kiwi carrier has also flown to Texas, operating to Houston.
Dallas-Fort Worth is American’s home hub and it will fly Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners there. The airport offers 70 connections throughout the United States with more than 900 flights a day.
The Christchurch-Los Angeles flights will be a big boost for the South Island city whose residents and tourist authorities have been pushing Air New Zealand to resume the route which it flew twice a week about a decade ago.
American will fly the routes from October 2020 to March 2021 with a slightly smaller Boeing 787-8, which features 20 Business seats, 28 Premium Economy seats and typically 188 Main Cabin seats.
These new routes are a direct result of the recently approved joint business with Qantas, which delivers new customer benefits like enhanced codeshare opportunities and increased frequent flyer benefits for American and Qantas customers.
Christchurch to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) created unique one-stop connections to the United States not previously available by any other carrier, American says.
American has invested US$1.6 billion ($2.5 billion) in terminals 4 and 5 of its LAX hub.
As the largest carrier at LAX, it connects to more than 70 destinations domestically and globally, with more than 200 flights operating out of LAX every day.
“The commercial success of our AKL-LAX route due to American’s love of New Zealand means it has been one of our best performing routes world-wide,” said Shane Hodges, American’s managing director of Asia Pacific sales.
“Americans have long had a love affair with the beauty that New Zealand offers, from wildlife and wineries, to hiking and cruises.”
While the number of Kiwis travelling to the US has dipped slightly over the past year to 209,000, the number of US visitors to this country continues to grow.
Total arrivals in the year to August have grown by nearly 9 per cent to 368,000.
“It’s exciting for American that, not only are we bringing Americans closer to a variety of experiences offered by New Zealand with direct access to the South Island, but we are also able to offer New Zealanders increased connectivity to the United States through our powerful Pacific gateway hubs, LAX and DFW,” said Hodges.
American’s managing director of Asia Pacific operations Russ Fortson said seasonal Auckland to Los Angeles service would resume earlier next year — on October 7 — adding three weeks of service.
The airline is by passenger kilometres the biggest in the world and has a fleet of close to 1000 aircraft.
Fortson said the airline had made an all-time industry record investment of US$28 billion ($43.5 billion) over the past six years in aircraft, people and products.
Christchurch Airport predicts just announced direct flights between Christchurch and Los Angeles will ”turbocharge” tourism value to New Zealand.
Christchurch Airport chief aeronautical and commercial officer Justin Watson says American visitors landing into Christchurch are high value visitors.
“Americans who enter the country through Christchurch Airport spend 32 per cent more and stay 34 per cent longer than if they arrive elsewhere,” he says.
Based on government data, the seasonal service is forecast to bring in an extra $52 million in visitor spend for New Zealand, with $40 million of that in South Island regions.
Watson says the American Airlines service is a direct response to Americans’ very strong interest in the South Island.
“US visitor arrivals into Christchurch grew by 14 percent last year, as part of our growth in passenger numbers being higher than the national average,” he says.
Watson says the service also complements the Antarctic connectivity from this airport, with the United States Antarctic Programme based in Christchuch.
”It will of course also offer Kiwi travellers and producers’ freight direct access to North America. We have every expectation the service will be well used – in both directions.”
American and Qantas recently received final approval to form a joint business, and have already rolled out improved frequent flyer benefits on each airline’s network, and have expanded codeshare routes on each other’s network.
Qantas will also increase from six weekly flights between Sydney and DFW to daily service by mid-2020.
Additionally, Qantas announced a new service from San Francisco International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport to Brisbane, Australia which will launch in February and April respectively.
Air New Zealand and its joint venture partner fly in competition to American and Qantas.
United recently announced it will fly with larger aircraft between San Francisco and Auckland while Air New Zealand will fly more frequently on its year-old Auckland-Chicago route and from next October launch its longest flight – Auckland to New York.