DELTA AIRLINES: New route – Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand. Fare war?
Beginning 28 October, Delta will be the only US airline to fly directly between LAX and AUK daily. You’ll be travelling on an ex LATAM Airbus A350-900. Daily operations will give way to a three-weekly operation in shoulder season between late March and October. Then flights will operate from Auckland on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and in the reverse direction from Los Angeles on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
- DL64 – Auckland to Los Angeles, departing 14:00 arriving 06:00
- DL65 – Los Angeles to Auckland, departing 11:00 arriving 07:55 +2 days
The 12-hour route (eastbound) and ~13-hour (westbound) will feature 339 seats, with 30 Business Class seats (2-2-2), 63 ‘extra’ legroom seats (3-3-3) and 246 economy seats (3-3-3)
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Background to Los Angeles to Auckland New Zealand
New Zealand is proving a popular destination for North Americans, and the Delta flights join American Airlines season flight from Dallas to Auckland and United Airlines year-round San Francisco to Auckland route. United is also proposing a seasonal San Francisco to Christchurch route to also start late in 2023. That means all of the USA’s big three airlines will fly to New Zealand. That’s going to be a boon to Aotearoa’s tourist industry.
Air New Zealand and Qantas also run routes between New Zealand and the USA; even Fiji Airways runs a service. Air NZ flies to a bunch of USA destinations, including Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. Admittedly, those services have a sub-par reverse herringbone Business Class cabin, but that will change when its new Business Premier seats on Boeing 787 aircraft arrive. That is a lot of capacity!
The question raised by many commentators is – can this level of service to North America be maintained?
Seat feeding frenzy
It’s worth watching airfares on these flights between New Zealand, especially Auckland and North America. It’s not a stretch to see a bit of a fare war emerging. Testing a few fare options in Business Class, it will be roughly equal cost to fly between Sydney and the USA via New Zealand as it would be to fly direct, even counting a nice overnight hotel in Auckland. If that starts changing due to a fare war, it might be cheaper to fly to the USA via New Zealand rather than direct, although obviously, it will take longer.
Currently, it’s much cheaper to fly from Auckland to LAX (via Sydney) on Qantas than it is to fly direct from Sydney. Compare AU$6,131 return from Auckland to AU$12,348 for Direct Sydney to LAX. Even if you added in the ~AU$1,700 fare between Sydney and Auckland, it would save you AU$4,000 and only an extra 4 hours to go via Auckland. Plus, you would earn a bunch more status credits and points if you travelled on Qantas!
Delta is joining the pack of USA airlines now flying to New Zealand. Add in Qantas, Air New Zealand, Hawaiian and Fiji Air, and flying to North America via New Zealand might prove cheaper. It is already, and with an expected price war between the USA airlines servicing Aotearoa, pricing could get interesting.
Watch and act.