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Air New Zealand – Direct to New York. Take that Qantas Sunrise Project!

Air New Zealand – Direct to New York. Take that Qantas Sunrise Project!

Is this a case of ‘bitch stole my look’? With all the Qantas hoo haa about their Project Sunrise, Air NZ quietly introduces a direct route to NYC with their current fleet, and a couple of years early.

New Markets

A year from now in October 2020, Air New Zealand plans to fly direct from Auckland to Newark/New York using a Boeing 787-9 configured to carry additional business class and premium economy passengers with a total of 275 seats.

Air NZ currently has two configurations. The Business and Premium heavy ‘V2‘ or ‘code-2’ with 275 seats sounds like the one they will use:

  • 27 Business Premier
  • 33 Premium Economy
  • 215 Economy

The service will start by running 3 times a week, all year and tickets are expected to be available for sale soon.

This is a bit of a sideswipe to the Qantas Sunrise Project. With the Qantas direct flights, Australia to New York not expected to start until 2023 – Air New Zealand is getting ahead by three years!

Ok, if you are travelling from Australia, this flight is far from direct, but transiting in Auckland will be much more fun than the hideousness of LAX.

Some will argue that Newark is not quite New York, but pfwah! its a hub for Air NZ’s Star Alliance partner, United Airlines.

This will be the fifth-longest flight in the world by distance. At over 14,000 km (8,810 miles) it will take 15 hrs 40 min on the way over (Auckland to Newark), and that plus 2 hours on the return.

This will make Newark / New York Air NZ’s sixth North American destination, which currently includes Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and, San Francisco in the USA, and Vancouver, Canada.

My future route to New York on Air New Zealand?

No price, no schedule – yet

We don’t know what tickets will cost, or the actual take-off and landing times yet, nor the exact start date

Downside – Air New Zealand cancels London Flights via the USA west coast

Parts of New Zealand sometimes feel more English than the English, or more Scottish than the Scottish, so its no surprise that Air New Zealand has flown to the United Kingdom, one way or another for years – since 1982 – about 6 years before I took my first international flight ever!

As they open these direct flights Auckland to Newark, so they close their flights to London via the USA West Coast (LAX), just as they closed their flights to the UK via Hong Kong earlier.

New Zealanders now have far more options for getting one stop to the UK than they did back in 1982. There are around 12 gateways to London in Asia and the Americas for Air New Zealand customers, via their airline partners.

“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.”

AIR NZ acting CEO, Jeff McDowall

He goes on to point out:

“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.

Visitor growth to New Zealand is strongest from North America and performance of our new service to Chicago is exceeding expectations. New York has been an aspiration for Air New Zealand for some time and withdrawal from the Atlantic will free up aircraft capacity to make this milestone a reality.”

AIR NZ acting CEO, Jeff McDowall

Staffing impact

With the London flight gone, so is the London office of Air NZ – or at least at its current staffing level. At least the one year notice of the flight change gives these staff a reasonable opportunity to explore other possibilities.

“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.”

AIR NZ acting CEO, Jeff McDowall
The New York to Sydney Project Sunrise ‘Research’ 787 for Qantas, in the centenary livery

2PAXfly Takeout

As usual, it will all depend on the pricing, but the option of heading from East Coast of Australia off to New York via Auckland is quite appealing.

If AirNZ price it right, and Qantas ends up charging the kind of premium for their east coast Australia to New York flights, that they are charging for their Australia to London flights via Perth, then this might be a price-competitive route.

Would you travel from Australia to New York via Auckland?

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