COVID-19 delays launch of world’s fifth-longest flight: Newark to Auckland, New Zealand
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Air New Zealand has postponed the launch of its flight from Newark to Auckland, which would have been the fifth-longest in the world. The 8,810-mile nonstop was scheduled to begin on October 29 of this year, but the New Zealand Herald reported, citing airline officials, that it won’t happen until late 2021 because of the drop in demand from the coronavirus pandemic.
In terms of distance flown, the flight would have ranked just behind Auckland to Dubai in the list of the world’s longest flights. It would also have been the first nonstop between New York and New Zealand. The plane selected to operate the flight, lasting up to almost 18 hours, was the Boeing 787-9. In Air New Zealand’s layout, the 787 features the Skycouch in economy class, which lets passengers combine three adjacent economy-class seats into something resembling a business-class bed.
It’s indicative of the length of the slump in demand expected by the airline that the launch has been postponed to the end of next year “at the earliest,” according to the newspaper.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
According to Airlineroute, the Newark flight would have taken over the prestigious NZ1 and NZ2 flight numbers from the Auckland – Los Angeles service. The airline’s schedule showed that NZ2 would leave Auckland at 7:55 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and land in New Jersey at 5:35 p.m. the same day. (Arriving before the departure time is an effect of crossing time zones and the International Date Line.) NZ1 would depart Newark at 7:05 p.m., after a very quick turnaround time of about one hour, and arrive in Auckland at 6:45 a.m. two days later.
The Los Angeles flight used to continue to London, but Air New Zealand suspended the London leg in March due to the near-obliteration of passenger demand, and will not resume it. The London service would have ended in October anyway as the Newark flight started; the pandemic has forced an earlier termination. The airline’s strategy chief Nick Judd said demand is “unlikely to recover” before October.
Air New Zealand is a member of Star Alliance like United, which maintains a large hub at Newark and would have picked up most of the Air NZ passengers headed to London. Air NZ’s then-CEO Jeff McDowall said in 2019 that his airline lacked the scale to compete across the Atlantic, and that only seven percent of passengers between Auckland and London flew via Los Angeles in 2018 anyway. The three Middle Eastern giants — Emirates, Etihad and Qatar — have also siphoned off a large part of travel between New Zealand and Europe via their connecting services; Emirates alone flies more than a million people a year from New Zealand to its hub in Dubai.
Air New Zealand is also terminating service from Auckland to Buenos Aires, Argentina, which was one of the few flights crossing oceans in the southern hemisphere.
The airline says the Auckland to Los Angeles flight is currently being operated three times a week and is the only Air New Zealand service to the U.S. Those flights are operated only for cargo and a limited number of passengers, since foreigners are not allowed to enter New Zealand at the moment. The airline’s other U.S. routes — Honolulu, San Francisco, Houston and Chicago — are all suspended.
On its page related to COVID-19, Air New Zealand said passengers affected by these changes will be contacted with options in coming days. “Those who have booked flights via travel agents or third-party booking websites should contact them directly,” the airline added. As we have noted before, booking flights from online travel agencies such as Expedia or Orbitz means that travelers have to contend with two sets of conditions for refund or change — the airline’s own, and the online travel agency’s.
Featured image by Brendon O’Hagan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees