Qantas will launch a new service to New York via Auckland from 14 June next year.
It means the Flying Kangaroo will go head-to-head with Air New Zealand, which is starting its own 16-hour flight from the North Island on 17 September this year.
Qantas’ service will operate three days a week “initially” and use its 787-9s, three of which will be newly delivered next year.
Chief executive Alan Joyce said the airline “can’t wait” to return to New York.
“It’s made possible by the delivery of new aircraft, which have been caught up in delays that have impacted lots of airlines,” he said.
“Customer feedback on our direct London and Rome services show how well suited our Dreamliner cabins are to longer international flights like these, which is helped by the fact we designed them with more room and fewer seats than most of our competitors.
“We think this route will be very popular with Australians given the opportunity to connect via Auckland and it also gives New Zealanders more choice.”
Qantas currently operates six daily services to Auckland from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne that will increase to 11 when the New York service begins.
The airline revealed the new route alongside announcing it had recorded an underlying loss before tax of $1.86 billion in its full-year financial results, which Joyce called “staggering”.
“The past year has been challenging for everyone. We had to ramp down almost all flying once Delta hit and stay that way for several months before ramping back up through multiple Omicron waves as we all learned to live with COVID-19 in the community.”
“We always knew travel demand would recover strongly but the speed and scale of that recovery has been exceptional. Our teams have done an amazing job through the restart and our customers have been extremely patient as the whole industry has dealt with sick leave and labour shortages in the past few months.
“Safety remains number one, but our service isn’t at the level expected of the national carrier. There is a lot of work happening to bring us back to our best, including hiring more people, rolling out new technology and reducing domestic flying so we have more sick leave cover.
“We saw a big improvement in baggage handling and cancellations in August, which we expect will return to pre-COVID-19 standards next month. On time performance also improved significantly and should be close to our usual high standard in September.”
In 2022, Qantas has faced a string of problems, including huge delays at Easter, hours-long call wait times, and even a revelation that the cabin crew of a Qantas A330 were made to sleep across seats in economy. Last year, the Federal Court ruled the Flying Kangaroo was wrong to outsource 2,000 ground handling roles and subsequently rejected an initial appeal.