The ‘flagship route’ was launched in 1982 but will be replaced by a three-times-weekly service between New York and Auckland as part of a network review. It will become the carrier’s longest route by distance and the fifth longest globally.
A statement from the airline said it is hard to say farewell to such “¯an iconic route, but it must remain “focused on markets with the greatest opportunity for long-term profitable growth”.
The airline’s”¯ Acting CEO, Jeff McDowall, says: “Air New Zealand is strongest when operating direct flights to and from our home base in Auckland and this reset will put us in the best possible position to take advantage of increasing demand across the Pacific Rim.
“New York has been an aspiration for Air New Zealand for some time and withdrawal from the Atlantic will free up aircraft capacity to help make this milestone a reality.”
McDowall continues: “The number of ways to fly between London and Auckland has more than doubled in the past decade, changing customer preferences. Less “¯than “¯seven percent of “¯all airline “¯travellers “¯between London and Auckland chose to fly”¯ via “¯Los Angeles last year.
“At the same time, the Atlantic”¯ has become “¯one of the most hotly contested routes in the world and Air New Zealand lacks the home”¯ market “¯advantages and scale of “¯the “¯European and North American airlines “¯we’re up against.”
The withdrawal from London will see the closure of Air New Zealand’s cabin crew base of around 130 people in the capital and, subject to consultation, around 25 roles in its Hammersmith sales office and ground team.
“We will be working with our people and their union to help with the next steps in their career, including looking at opportunities in other areas of the airline,” says McDowall.
Nevertheless, it will retain a sales, marketing and cargo presence in London beyond the cessation of the service, given that more than two-thirds of revenue currently generated by its London team is unrelated to its Heathrow-LA services.