American Airlines has announced two new seasonal services to New Zealand, with Dallas/Fort Worth-Auckland and Los Angeles-Christchurch nonstop flights to begin in October 2020.
The new routes were launched on Monday (US time), some four months after the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) approved an expanded partnership between American and Qantas.
The green light from the DOT has also led to Qantas launching new Brisbane-Chicago and Brisbane-San Francisco nonstop flights starting in 2020. The Australian carrier’s Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth nonstop flight is also being increased to daily, from six times weekly currently.
However, American and Qantas were yet to seek reauthorisation from the Australian and New Zealand governments for an extension of their joint business agreement (JBA) for the metal-neutral, revenue-sharing alliance.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the New Zealand government approved the American-Qantas tie-up for five years in 2016.
The New Zealand approval expired in November 8, 2020, while the ACCC approval was until March 18, 2021.
Neither airline would comment publicly on Tuesday about the expiry dates for the two authorisations. However, it was understood both were expected to apply to the appropriate authorities on both sides of the Tasman in the first half of 2020 to extend the agreements.
Their renewals would bring them in line – give or take a few months – with the seven-year authorisation for the same JBA that was granted by the DOT in July.
A New Zealand Ministry of Transport (MOT) spokesperson said on Tuesday that neither airline had applied to extend the agreement.
Further, the spokesperson said that if there was any reason it the approval lapsed it would simply mean both airlines would revert to flying on their individual air service agreements to New Zealand.
American Airlines said the nonstop Dallas/Fort Worth-Auckland nonstop service would operate three times a week with Boeing 787-9 equipment between October 25 and November 29 2020. From December 1 2020 until March 27 2021, the route will be served daily.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles-Christchurch has been scheduled as a three times weekly service with 787-8s running between October 25 2020 and March 26 2021.
The two routes joins American’s existing seasonal Auckland-Los Angeles service, which began in 2016.
The airline’s 787-8s feature 20 business class seats, 28 premium economy seats and 186 economy seats, while its 787-9s have 30 business class seats, 21 premium economy seats and 234 economy seats.
American will be the only United States carrier flying to New Zealand’s South Island.
“The South Island sums up everything that our customers are looking for in New Zealand — adventure, culture and wildlife found no where else,” American senior vice president of network strategy Vasu Raja said in a statement.
“We want to make their lifelong dreams a reality and bring New Zealand’s beauty even closer as the gateway to the South Island where you can drive, hike, cruise and fly to a variety of classic New Zealand experiences.”
Currently, four airlines offer nonstop flights between New Zealand and the United States. In addition to American, Air New Zealand serves Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco from its Auckland hub, Hawaiian has nonstop Auckland-Honolulu flights and United flies between Auckland and San Francisco.