American Airlines adds 2 New Zealand routes under Qantas partnership

Oct 28, 2019

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American Airlines is doubling up on New Zealand, including the only nonstop to the country’s South Island from the U.S.

The Oneworld Alliance carrier will launch flights between Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Auckland (AKL) and between  Los Angeles (LAX) and Christchurch (CHC) next October, it announced Monday. The new routes will be flown with Boeing 787 aircraft.

The flights come as American plans to grow by as much as 5% year-over-year in 2020. The New Zealand routes join Casablanca (CMN), Tokyo’s close-in Haneda (HND) airport, and Tel Aviv (TLV) among new flights planned for next year.

Related: American to come back strong after MAX grounding with aggressive growth

The new Dallas/Fort Worth-Auckland route will operate three-times weekly on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday westbound from Oct. 25, 2020 to Nov. 29, 2020, and daily from Dec. 1, 2020 through March 25, 2021. American will fly a 787-9 with business class and premium economy cabins on the route.

The Los Angeles-Christchurch route will operate three-times weekly on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday westbound from Oct. 25, 2020 to March 24, 2021. American will fly a 787-8 on the route.

“We see New Zealand as an underdeveloped market for U.S. tourism,” American’s network head Vasu Raja told TPG in an interview. For example, the Christchurch flight will be the only nonstop to New Zealand’s South Island from the U.S.

The new routes fit into American’s new joint venture with Qantas that is now taking shape. Approved in July, the partnership allows the two carriers to act as essentially one between the U.S. and both Australia and New Zealand. This includes coordinating schedules and fares, as well as jointly selling and marketing each others flights in both markets.

Related: American, Qantas meet to map out transpacific partnership

The new Auckland and Christchurch routes, while targeting primarily local traffic between the U.S. and New Zealand, are only possible with Qantas’ sales capacity Down Under, said Raja.

Qantas has already announced two new U.S. routes under the partnership: flights between Brisbane (BNE) and San Francisco (SFO) begin in February, and between Brisbane and Chicago O’Hare (ORD) in April.

Raja said that, even though formal planning for the joint venture only began in September, the “foundational pieces” of the tie up are already in place with just administrative details still in need of completion.

“These routes represent the cultural implementation of [the joint venture],” he said.

Related: The best credit card for American Airlines flyers

American’s new flights come as Air New Zealand continues to make a broad push into the U.S. with partner United Airlines. The Star Alliance carrier announced earlier in October that it will launch nonstop service between Auckland and Newark (EWR) in a year. Air New Zealand began service to Chicago O’Hare last November.

Featured image by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Related: Behind the scenes: What it was like on Qantas’ 19-hour Project Sunrise flight


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