American Airlines Makes A Play In New Zealand

American Airlines is making a play in New Zealand. Last night, Amercian Airlines announced new services to start in 2020 that represent a challenge to the Air New Zealand / United Airlines stranglehold on airline traffic between New Zealand and North America.

American Airlines’ expansion in the region was expected following the Dallas based airline rolling out a raft of new services a couple of months ago and signing off on a joint venture with Qantas. But the chatter was about a possible Dallas – Melbourne service or a Dallas – Brisbane service. No-one saw the Christchurch route coming!

American Airlines already operates seasonal flights between Los Angeles and Auckland. In October 2020 it will add two new seasonal services, Dallas Fort Worth – Auckland and Los Angeles – Christchurch.

Here’s what’s happening.

Los Angeles – Auckland seasonal route

So this key route is remaining seasonal. When word began to leak of American Airlines’ interest in New Zealand over the weekend, many people thought they would make this route fulltime. But that was not to be.

It looks like AA’s current New Zealand 2019/2020 season has its last flight out of LAX on 27 March 2020. The first 2020/21 summer flight to Auckland will depart on 7 October 2020. American Airlines operates a Boeing 787-9 on the route.

Dallas Fort Worth – Auckland seasonal route

American Airlines is also laying on a seasonal Dallas Fort Worth – Auckland service beginning 25 October 2020 and ending 27 March 2021. These flights will use a Boeing 787-9 for the three times a week service. From 1 December 2020, the flights will go to daily services.

American Airlines 787-9s seat 285 passengers. There are 144 economy cabin seats in a 3-3-3 configuration. Seat width varies between 16.2” and 17.2” and seat pitch is 31”. There are 21 seats in the premium economy cabin where the configuration is 2-3-2. Seat width is 17.2” and seat pitch is 35”. Up in business class, there are 31 lie flat seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. Seat width is 21” and seat pitch is 77”.

The tentative flight schedule has a late evening push back from Dallas to arrive in Auckland in time for a late breakfast two days later. The return service departs Auckland late morning to arrive in Dallas at breakfast time on the same day. Gotta love the international date line!

Los Angeles – Christchurch seasonal route

From 25 October 2020 through to 26 March 2021, American Airlines will operate a Boeing 787-8 between Los Angeles and Christchurch thrice weekly. This is an interesting move. There are no direct services between Christchurch and North America. But using Los Angeles as a transit point, a whole host of one stop destinations in North American (and elsewhere) will be available to South Islanders

American Airlines will use a Boeing 787-8 on the route. The 787-8 seats 223 passengers in three classes. There are 186 economy class seats in a 3-3-3 configuration. Seat width is between 16.2” and 18.1” and pitch is between 31”. In the premium economy cabin there are 28 recliner seats in a 2-3-2 configuration. Seat width is 17.2” and pitch is 35”-36”. Up the front in business class there are 20 lie flat business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. Seat width is 21” and seat pitch is 77”.

The timetable is similar to the Dallas – Auckland service – a late evening departure from Los Angeles for a morning arrival into Christchurch. There’s a lunchtime departure from Christchurch for a same day morning arrival into Los Angeles. 

The take out

It is interesting that American Airlines’ interest in New Zealand is strictly seasonal. You’d think there would be enough demand for a fulltime flight to a major North American city from Auckland, particularly as no other Oneworld carriers offer nonstop options.

It will throw a spanner in the works regarding the Air New Zealand / United Airlines alliance but they will be able to breathe easier for six months of the year.


Categories: American Airlines

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