American Airlines will start daily flights between Los Angeles and Auckland from June 2016 with Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners in partnership with alliance partner Qantas.
The announcement was made in Wellington on Wednesday by American chief executive Doug Parker and Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce.
“Growth in the Asia Pacific region is critically important to American Airlines,” Parker told reporters Wellington on Wednesday.
“This new route will mean greater choice for New Zealand travellers.”
American’s arrival in Auckland will see it compete against Air New Zealand, which has had the Los Angeles-Auckland to itself since Qantas withdrew from the route in 2012 with Airbus A330s. Qantas will add its QF airline code on American’s new flights.
“There’s room for both of us,” Parker said.
“The vast majority of customers on American will originate in the United States.”
“It will be a nice competition, the winners here are consumers.”
The new services, as well as American’s Sydney-Los Angeles flights with Boeing 777-300ERs that take off in December, are part of American and Qantas’s expanded alliance on trans-Pacific routes, which is currently before regulators in both Australia and the United States.
In July the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) gave interim approval to the new arrangements, which include a revenue-sharing component, while the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has asked both carriers to supply more information regarding city-pairs, market shares and other data.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said American’s new Auckland-Los Angeles route would enable travellers more easily combine Australia and NZ in the one itinerary through Jetstar’s domestic NZ network of 11 destinations, as well as the Flying Kangaroo’s 40 daily flights across the Tasman.
“When you join our great networks with our new service, customers will be able to fly from Dunedin to Disneyland, Napier to New Orleans and Wellington to Washington,” Joyce said.
American’s 787-8s are configured with 28 fully flat business class seats, 55 main cabin extra seats and 143 economy seats for a total of 226 seats.
The new flights will operate as an afternoon departure from Auckland for a morning arrival in Los Angeles. The return flight is an overnight service from Los Angeles.
Wednesday’s announcement continued a recent flurry of new capacity on trans-Pacific routes.
United is launching its own Auckland-San Francisco service from June 2016, which will be operated in partnership with fellow Star Alliance member Air NZ.
And United started new Melbourne-Los Angeles services in October, ending its previous tag flight from Sydney to the Victorian capital.