American Airlines will rachet up competition in New Zealand in 2020 by launching the only nonstop service between the US and the South Island and adding a direct service from Dallas-Fort Worth.
The US giant announced Monday it would fly between Los Angeles and Christchurch three times a week from October 2020 to March 2021 using a Boeing 787-8.
It said the new routes were a direct result of its recently-approved joint business with Qantas and that Qantas Group airlines would connect passengers from Wellington and Melbourne to the 13-hour Christchurch-LA flight.
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The 787-8 features 20 Flagship Business seats and 28 Premium Economy seats, as well as a mix of Main Cabin Extra extra legroom seats and standard economy seats.
The aircraft features in-seat power and American’s impressive entertainment system featuring live television, and hundreds of movies, music, games and TV shows.
American will use the bigger Boeing 787-9, featuring 30 business seats and 21 premium economy seats, to add the new service from DFW to complement the seasonal service between Auckland and LA.
The service will operate from October 25 to March 25 from Dallas-Fort Worth, starting three times weekly and moving to daily from December 1.
From Auckland, it will run from October 27 to March 27 and move to daily flights from December 3.
It will complement the seasonal Auckland-LA service which next year will start three weeks earlier from October 7.
American senior vice president network strategy Vasu Raja said the South Island summed everything its customers were looking for in New Zealand.
“We want to make their lifelong dreams a reality and bring New Zealand’s beauty even closer as the gateway to the South Island where you can drive, hike, cruise and fly to a variety of classic New Zealand experiences,” he said.
Vaja said the DFW service would allow the airline to bring in customers from places Louisville Kentucky or Monterey, Mexico with just one stop.
American said its new relationship with Qantas meant the two carriers would next year have the most flights between Australasia and the US.
The partners have already rolled out improved frequent flyer benefits, including higher earning rates for points and status credits on each airline’s network, as well as expanded codeshare routes on their networks.
Qantas will increase the number of flights between Sydney and DFW from six a week to daily service by mid-2020 and is launching new services from San Francisco International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport to Brisbane.
Air New Zealand recently announced it would axe its long-standing Los Angeles-London service and start non-stop flights between Auckland and New York ‘s Newark Liberty International Airport from October 29, 2020.
It expects the move to cut travel time to The Big Apple by about three hours.