The non-stop market between the U.S. and new Zealand is getting more crowded following American Airlines’ announcement this week that it will begin Los Angeles-Auckland service in June 2016.
Last month, United Airlines — a Star Alliance partner of Air New Zealand — said it will start San Francisco-Auckland non-stops in July 2016. And Air New Zealand has plans to begin its own new service in the middle of next month between Auckland and United’s Houston hub.
Currently, Air New Zealand has a monopoly on non-stop service between New Zealand and the U.S. mainland, with flights from Auckland to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Qantas used to compete on the non-stop LAX-Auckland route, but dropped it in 2012.
American will operate the daily New Zealand service with a 787-8 as part of its joint venture with Qantas, subject to regulatory approvals. The LAX departure will be at 10:45 p.m, arriving in Auckland at 6:35 a.m. two days later. American’s passengers will be able to connect at Auckland to 11 New Zealand destinations and to points in Australia via Qantas and its Jetstar subsidiary.
Qantas and American have been ramping up their partnership in recent months, with plans to begin new non-stops next month between Los Angeles-Sydney (operated by American) and between San Francisco-Sydney (operated by Qantas). The LAX-Sydney market is already crowded, with service from Qantas, Delta, United and Virgin Australia.
Currently, the lowest nonstop roundtrip economy fares for June trips between California and New Zealand are in the $1,200 range. Business class is much higher at $5,100-$7,000 round trip on United and Air New Zealand nonstops, but only about $3,500 on one- stop Hawaiian Airlines flights via Honolulu.
With all the new services coming up between the U.S. and Australia/New Zealand, most observers expect to see lower air fares in the months ahead. Plus, with all that new capacity, it could get easier to redeem miles for those treasured trips to the Antipodes!
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