Air New Zealand Postpones Newark Launch

Filed Under: Air New Zealand

Over the past several years we’ve seen some incredible routes added that would have seemed inconceivable a decade ago. With many airlines planning on becoming smaller after COVID-19, I would expect fewer “exciting” new routes.

It looks like the most exciting new route on the horizon has just been delayed by at least a year.

Air New Zealand delays Newark launch

Air New Zealand was supposed to launch 3x weekly nonstop flights between Auckland and Newark as of October 2020. This would have been Air New Zealand’s longest flight yet, and the sixth longest flight in the world.

Air New Zealand is now postponing their Newark flight until late 2021 at the earliest. In other words, this route is truly going back to the drawing board, as they’re pushing it off by at least a year.

Air New Zealand cuts Buenos Aires & London flights

Before the current pandemic, Air New Zealand operated a 5x weekly Auckland to Buenos Aires flight, though the airline doesn’t plan on bringing this route back when things recover. Apparently the route wasn’t doing well before COVID-19, and they expect things to be even worse after this is over.

Furthermore, Air New Zealand will be cancelling their Los Angeles to London route effective immediately, representing their departure from the UK. The airline was supposed to cut the Los Angeles to London route as of October 2020 (to coincide with the New York route launch), but will now be cutting the route early, since demand isn’t expected to recover.

Air New Zealand’s Chief Networks, Strategy, and Alliances Officer, Nick, Judd, said demand for international travel is currently 5% of pre-COVID-19 levels into June (which seems high, frankly):

“It’s deeply disappointing to be in this position. Our people have worked tenaciously over the years to build these markets and excitement was growing for our non-stop New York flight.

However, the effects of COVID-19 continue to bite; we expect most countries to take a cautious approach to international travel in the next year and we have to be pragmatic.

Government travel restrictions will continue for some time and demand for our Los Angeles-London service is unlikely to recover before our planned exit in October. Argentina has been challenging before the pandemic and we don’t expect this market to recover quickly.”

Air New Zealand grounding 777s

At this point it’s premature to guess when international flights will resume, though as I wrote about a few days ago, Air New Zealand has laid off 777 crews, and doesn’t plan on flying 777s again until at least April 2021.

This represents over half of Air New Zealand’s long haul fleet. Once Air New Zealand does relaunch operations, expect it to be gradual.

Air New Zealand is grounding 777s

Bottom line

There’s nothing actually surprising here, though it has now officially been confirmed that Air New Zealand’s Newark flight will be delayed until at least late 2021. Air New Zealand is also axing their London flight early, and cutting their Buenos Aires flight permanently.

Unfortunately I think that means you can also expect the Skynest to not be introduced anytime soon.

Don’t expect Air New Zealand to follow through with the Skynest

I imagine that’s only the start of their route reductions for when long haul operations resume…

  1. I was surprised that Air NZ even flew to Buenos Aires. Wouldn’t it have been better if Air NZ flew to Bogotá instead as that’s where their Star Alliance partner Avianca are based. It would have been a better option for connections to other parts of Latin America. Also would be good when competing with LATAM and Qantas.

  2. I really hope EWR-AKL flight will still come to fruition even after this pandemic is over. Back a few years ago I was rooting for the EWR-AKL flight but they instead opted for ORD at the time.

    @Phil, I recall Air New Zealand started the AKL-EZE route sometime after Aerolineas Argentinas ended its SYD-EZE route so I’m guessing 5-6 years ago Air NZ thought they could tap into this market and further expand.

  3. The loss of the Buenos Aires route is particularly sad.

    There are lots of options if you want to fly between Auckland and London or New York, but intercontinental connections within the Southern Hemisphere are few and far between.

    For me, it probably means a tiresome connection from EZE into the Santiago-Sydney route.

  4. Bit sad about the LAX-LHR route going. Never actually flew it, but I have some irrational soft spot for 5th freedom flights. On the topic, do you think that there will be more or fewer 5th freedom flights post COVID-19 (at least in the first few “recovery years”)?

  5. @JMM there’s also GRU – ADD, though I guess it’s closer to the equator than an actual Southern hemisphere route

  6. Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts about the LAX to Raro route resuming? I know the 777’s are shut down but could they fly a 787 from there? I have a flight booked for August 15th, any chance it might happen?

  7. Not surprising. Air Nz is fighting for its life and will probably be renationalised by the Nz government. It will be largely domestic for the next year to 18 months. NZ seems to be coming under control with Covid with a very harsh lockdown.

    Aren’t even allowed to drive in your car except for essential services, no takeout open for a month. All shops. Except supermarkets and pharmacies are closed. Fathers couldn’t even attend birth of children and more family members banned from being at bedside of dying relations. Only 5 new cases today and 17 deaths in total. Of that total 10 from one rest home. To be honest the shelter in place in other countries look like a walk in the park compared to here.

    Nz is not going to open its borders for a long time, waiting for someone else to come up with a vaccine first… when they do, any people from hot spots would have to quarantine for 14 days. there is talk of an agreement with Australia to to allow free travel between the two countries. But that will be a long way off as well.

  8. The key good reason for Air NZ’s AKL-LAX-LHR NZ2/1 rotation (it was once to Gatwick using BA crews from LAX) was removed by Dubya’s over-reactive waronterrah edict requiring transit passengers at LAX to endure immigration and customs only to get straight back on the plane. No time for premium pax to access the lounge and there were tales in the early days of some pax missing onward connections.

    I never did the one-shot trip but the final nail for me was the switch, as a steerage passenger, from the relatively spacious 744s, which once even had 34 inch pitch, to sardine tin, 3-4-3 773s. Endured one two many flights being constantly bumped by cabin crew and fellow pax though the crews were friendly and delivered great service.

    For LAX, AA, Virgin, BA et al all make multiple hops a day across the Atlantic. For longer hauls, Kiwis love Asia and the Middle East and there are numerous flight options and stopover airports. I switched years ago to Emirates on which I can now, with the Australian stopovers eliminated, fly from my local airport to Dubai and, two hours later, take a 16-17 hour one shot flight to Auckland in an A380, also much more spacious than the horrible 777s. And there is now, again, seasonally, competition from AA on the AKL-LAX run, and from United to SFO.

    Air NZ functions best as a regional airline and world events seem to shake it up about once every 20 years. It will emerge from this virus crisis smaller, leaner and more locally focused.

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