- Air New Zealand will launch a non-stop flight from Auckland to New York in October 2020.
- The announcement comes days after Qantas completed its non-stop test flight from New York to Sydney – the longest flight in the world.
- The Air New Zealand flight will take 15 hours and 40 minutes north and 17 hours, 40 minutes south to New Zealand.
Just days after Qantas completed its non-stop research flight from New York to Sydney, Air New Zealand threw its hat in the ring by announcing a direct flight from Auckland to New York.
The Kiwi airline will launch the non-stop flight in October 2020 using Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. The planes are equipped with 275 seats and have a higher proportion of Business Premier and Premium Economy seats.
The flight will take 15 hours and 40 minutes north to New York and 17 hours, 40 minutes south to New Zealand. At 14,178km, it will become Air New Zealand’s longest flight and the fifth longest flight in the world by distance, the airline said.
The aircraft will make its way from Auckland to United Airlines’ New York hub Newark Liberty International Airport three times a week, all year round. And as for tickets, those will go on sale “soon”, Air New Zealand said, “subject to regulatory approvals and landing slot confirmation”.
From Sydney to New York with Qantas
Qantas tested a non-stop flight from New York to Sydney last weekend. The flight, which spent 19 hours and 16 minutes in the air, became the longest flight in the world, overtaking Singapore Airline’s Singapore to New York service.
The flight was conducted to research the impact it would have on pilots, passengers and crew.
Alertness CRC Project Leader Dr Tracey Sletten, one of the researchers on board the flight, told Business Insider Australia that they would be looking at how much sleep cabin crew are able to get on the flight as well as the alertness levels of pilots.
“We [are] also asking them about their workload and stress,” Sletten said prior to the flight.
The flight included 40 passengers and 10 crew members, with the data gathered to be used to help Qantas make its case to aviation regulators that it is safe for crew members to work in shifts for possibly 20 hours.
Qantas hopes to start a commercial service as early as 2023.
Farewelling Air New Zealand’s LA-London flights
Air New Zealand’s plans to fly non-stop to New York comes amid the airline’s decision to stop its daily Los Angeles to London service.
The airline will end the LA-London route from October 2020 following a shift in passenger preferences.
Air New Zealand Acting Chief Executive Officer Jeff McDowall said in a statement that while it was hard to say goodbye to the “iconic route”, the airline wants to focus on markets, such as New York, that have the biggest opportunity for long term growth.
“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,” he said.
“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 New Zealand had operated its Los Angeles to London flight since 1982 but McDowall said the changes in the market have impacted its performance in recent years. He added that Kiwis have more than double the number of ways to fly to London compared to a decade ago and their flight preferences have changed.
“Less than seven percent of all airline travellers between Auckland and London chose to fly via Los Angeles last year,” he said in a statement.
“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.”
McDowall said the hardest part of the decision to withdraw its LA-London service was the impact on the Air New Zealand staff. The airline will disband its London cabin crew base of around 130 people and around 25 sales and ground team members.
“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,” he added.
Europe, however, still remains a key sales region for Air New Zealand, with more than two thirds of revenue generated by its London team not related to its Atlantic route. Air New Zealand said it will still keep a sales, marketing and cargo presence in London after it stops its LA-London service.
When October 2020 rolls around, Air New Zealand passengers will be able to travel between Auckland and London with partner airlines through 12 areas in Asia and the Americas, including New York.