Interesting route changes at American, Thai, and Air New Zealand

There are a few noteworthy route additions/cancellations/adjustments which I figured I’d briefly mention:

Air New Zealand announces new service to Bali

Air New Zealand has announced that they’ll begin twice weekly service between Auckland and Bali as of June 20. Bali is one of my favorite places in the world, so I’m really excited to see another Star Alliance option to Bali. The flight hasn’t been loaded into the GDS yet, so I have no clue how award availability is looking. This is pretty significant, though, since you’ll now be able to travel on an award ticket from the US to Bali with a stopover in New Zealand, another one of my favorite places.

The only downside is that the 8.5 hour flight from Auckland to Bali is operated by a 767-300 aircraft, which features their regional business class product. Still, if it allows me to travel from the US to Bali via New Zealand, I’m totally in!

American cuts New York to Tokyo Narita, adds service to Tokyo Haneda

American, American, American. What the heck are you thinking? First you cut your Chicago to Delhi route, and now you replace your New York to Tokyo Narita flight with a new New York to Tokyo Haneda flight as of this summer. Yes, this is the same flight they cut last year because it wasn’t doing well. Haven’t we learned our lesson that transpacific flights into Haneda are nothing more than hype? Yes, the airport is a bit closer to the city, though the awful arrival and departure times mean transportation into and out of the city can be a nightmare, and we all know how expensive Tokyo is. Beyond that, connections are virtually non-existent with the flight times. I give it a few months at most before they cut it again. What are they thinking? Oh well, it’ll probably at least be worth a double miles promotion for the route.

Thai cuts nonstop service to the US

As of May 1, Thai will cut their nonstop Los Angeles to Bangkok flight and instead replace it with a flight that stops in Seoul/Incheon in both directions. The flight will be operated by a 777-200 in place of the A340-500 currently operating the route. This is awful for just about all passengers. For one, the 777 doesn’t have a premium economy product, while the A340-500 did. Furthermore, economy on the A340-500 had an unheard of 36″ of pitch, while it’s not quite as generous as the 777. What I can’t for the life of me understand is that Thai doesn’t at least operate the service with an aircraft featuring a first class product. I mean, surely a flight to the US would get more paid premium traffic than their routes to Rome, Madrid, etc., right?

Filed Under: Air New Zealand, American
  1. I mean, surely a flight to the US would get more paid premium traffic people redeeming US Airways F awards than their routes to Rome, Madrid, etc., right?

    FYP. šŸ˜€

    In all seriousness, I am not convinced of that. Cases in point: OZ doesn’t fly an F cabin to ORD, SEA or SFO, or on half of their LAX flights. NH doesn’t fly F cabins on a number of USA routes, either. CX awards out of the West Coast are not exactly impossible to achieve. And UA gives away a ton of F via upgrade and award.

    My guess is this is a holding action to try and stem the bleeding until TG gets some 787s, which in a lieflat C/Y configuration are probably the right planes for them to fly to LAX.

  2. Also, those flight timings are just terrible for onward connections on TG out of BKK. That’s just not going to work for paid premium traffic- why would you pay a zillion dollars to have to cool your heels in the airport?

    My guess is what TG wants is to stuff Y full with VFR traffic out of LAX, maybe, pick up some extra BKK-ICN traffic. and just not have to fly an expensive flying gas can like the 345 across the Pacific.

    That and it’s TG- they may change the plane type three times in the upcoming year.

  3. re: eponymous_coward
    It seems like there is OZ First from ORD. I don’t know if it is a change or not, but I have an award on OZ235 in First (O) booked…

  4. American has to fly to Haneda or they lose their route authorities – presumably to a competitor. But they can’t afford to fly both NRT and HND, so they chose to drop NRT and keep HND.

    I suspect you are right and they will stop flying it eventually anyway, but I would not be surprised if they applied to ‘suspend’ it again as they did last time.

  5. The ORD service is new, I think (bringing in a newer 777). But they don’t fly it to SFO or SEA.

    My guage for how someone does at selling F is how hard is it to get on award? TG is very, VERY easy.

    The other thing is Europe-BKK-Australia is a pretty sensible kangaroo hop, and someplace where you might get F sales in connecting traffic. USA-BKK-Australia, with horrible connecting times that strand you in BKK, plus adding a stop in ICN? Not so much.

  6. @Lucky – was weight on such a long flight a consideration in the seat pitch on the LAX-BKK flight, i.e. less seats so more pitch?

    In terms of premium cabins, it was always my impression that this flight had a high percentage of leisure travelers, thus no First Class, so curious if that is indeed a factor?

  7. I agree with AS. The AA decision to keep JFK-HND is in order to keep the HND slot out of the hands of UA. There were 4 slots at HND awarded to US airlines. If AA doesn’t use their slot at HND it will be re-allocated, and I imagine that UA would be interested, perhaps from SFO or HNL.

    Regarding TG, do they have other LAX service which has an F product?

  8. The Air NZ flights to Bali are only June to October 2012. My guess is it won’t be extended, and perhaps also used to test out new longhaul onboard products.

    They have already announced that the economy service will be seats to suit – i.e. you have to pay more to check bags, get fed, use the IFE, etc.

  9. Believe it or not, there is more premium traffic Europe-BKK than US-BKK. But still baffled by TG’s decision.

  10. @ eponymous_cowar — Well Asiana has a first class product to New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, while the only destination in Europe with a first class product is Frankfurt (not even London). As far as ANA goes, the only service to the US without first class is the LA to Haneda flight, and I think that’s more of a function of the airport than the market.

    @ AS — I suspect that’s the logic on part of American, but I think it’s time to just give up the Haneda slot. Everyone in the industry thought longhaul service to Haneda would be the best thing since sliced bread, though I think we’ve seen that’s not really the case. Flying a route just to keep the slot (when it failed in the past) just doesn’t make sense to me, especially for an airline in Chapter 11.

    @ Carl — You’re absolutely right, the reason for the good pitch was the weight of the aircraft. So it’s not that Thai was being intentionally “generous,” but that just worked out to keep the weight of the plane low.

    Thai has no other service to LA (or the US) for that matter. So while there is quite a bit of leisure traffic, I suspect there’s at least some market for a good premium product. Thai isn’t really competitive between the US and Bangkok, given that their aircraft doesn’t have a fully flat bed, while most of the competition does. They had an advantage with the nonstop service, but now I’d much rather fly a flat bed product of United, Cathay Pacific, etc.

    @ MT — I believe there’s more premium traffic from London, Frankfurt, etc., to Bangkok, but also from Madrid to Rome? I have a hard time imagining that’s the case.

  11. It is dollars and fuel costs, my oung friend. The B772 and the A345 have *about* the same seating capacity, but the A345, with FOUR engines, requires a LOT more fuel per pound/mile. Wonder why AB stopped maling them? The Seoul stop allows them some connection and PAX flexibility on flights that are usually under-sold and avoid ‘tankering’ fuel (with popssible weight/pax limits) on an extremely long flight. There may also be some crew change benefits as well. The change may be unpopular with a few, but it probably makes good business sense.

  12. A few oneworld carriers have recently moved to HND. HND is the main airport for Japan domestic and flights to China and Korea. Best of all it’s 15 minutes to Tokyo and new express train takes you to Nrt in 30mins. Off to Jabiru this morning, have pitty on me on QF838, no cyclones this week???

  13. Qantas is setting up a new Japan based airline and it’s hub is HND so maybe this is part of the strategy??? Oh TG is hemorrhaging money on the LAX non stop, they have cancelled this before.

  14. Thai has been wanting to get rid of the A340s for awhile. Maybe they’re finally doing it thus the change to 777 with an enroute stop. Super long range was the only advantage that the A340 (-500&600 ??) offered.

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