Air New Zealand axes Los Angeles-London flights, adds Newark nonstop

Oct 23, 2019

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After operating the fifth-freedom route from London to Los Angeles and on to Auckland for nearly 40 years, Air New Zealand will axe the route as of October 2020.

Replacing that route as of October 2020 will be a new Air New Zealand nonstop three times a week between New York’s Newark airport and Auckland. It will be the first-ever nonstop flight between New York and New Zealand.

The flights to Auckland from Newark will take around 17 hours and 40 minutes, according to the airline. At almost 9,000 miles, this will be the longest flight in Air New Zealand’s network and the fifth-longest in the world by distance. Tickets will go on sale soon, pending regulatory approvals and landing slot confirmation.

The route will be flown by a Boeing 787-9, with business, premium economy and economy seats. Air New Zealand also offers on the 787 the Skycouch, which turns some adjacent economy seats into a bed, although not one comparable to a biz-class lie-flat bed.

Air New Zealand Skycouch (Photo by Emily McNutt / The Points Guy)
Air New Zealand Skycouch (Photo by Emily McNutt / The Points Guy)

As Air New Zealand adds this new route, it is also ending its service from Auckland to London via Los Angeles, a flagship flight for the airline since 1982. Air NZ just does not have the advantages that U.S. and European airlines have on the North Atlantic routes, acting CEO Jeff McDowall said.

“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 travelers between Auckland and London chose to fly via Los Angeles last year,” McDowall said. “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.”

The airline serves Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Francisco, Houston and Chicago in the US, the latter since November 2018.

“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,” McDowall said in a statement.

Ending that service also means Air New Zealand will be closing its crew base in London, and possibly reducing the size of its sales office in the city.

Unfortunately, if the carrier’s current routes are an indicator of premium-class award availability, it’ll likely be exceedingly hard to redeem your points or miles for business class on this route. We’re only seeing a handful of dates from with business-class award seats out of or into Los Angeles (LAX) or Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) at the moment — all of which are in late November/early December of this year. If you are lucky enough to snag these seats once the route to Newark (EWR) launches, here’s what you’d need for a round-trip ticket from major Star Alliance programs:

  • United: 180,000 miles
  • Aeroplan: 160,000 miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles: 160,000 miles

All three of these awards would include roughly £55 in taxes and fees. If you’re willing to brave economy for this ultra-long-haul flight, you’ll probably have an easier time finding award space. Both United and Avianca will charge you 80,000 miles for the round-trip award flight in coach, while Aeroplan carries a slight premium (90,000 miles).

Nick Ewen contributed reporting.

Featured image courtesy of Boeing

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