American Airlines, today, confirmed their intentions to begin service from their Los Angeles hub to Auckland, New Zealand, in cooperation with fellow oneworld alliance partner Qantas Airways. American and Qantas had previously announced increased service from the United States to Sydney, Australia, with the addition of daily service from Los Angeles aboard American Airlines’ flagship Boeing 777-300ER and the return of Qantas to San Francisco.
Doug Parker, Chairman and CEO of American, and Alan Joyce, Qantas Group CEO, met with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in Wellington, NZ, to announce the new service and the cooperation between AA & QF.
“American’s new non-stop Los Angeles-Auckland service is supported by Jetstar’s domestic connections to eleven destinations within New Zealand and Qantas Group’s nearly 40 daily flights to Australia. The new route across the Pacific is great news for travelers, the local New Zealand tourism industry and the corporate market,” said Mr. Joyce.
Per AusBT, Qantas is planning major upgrades to their Auckland lounge, though renovations will not be complete in time for the launch of American’s service to Los Angeles. Nevertheless, this will represent a huge upgrade for oneworld passengers.
Qantas will upgrade its Auckland airport lounge to what CEO Alan Joyce hopes will be “the best lounge in New Zealand” – even when measured against Air New Zealand’s impressive flagship lounge.
The new Qantas Auckland Lounge lounge will follow in the footsteps of the airline’s other stylish international lounges at Singapore, Hong Kong and Los Angeles (below), and be available to oneworld partners including American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and LATAM.
Auckland is Qantas’ most popular international destination due to high trans-Tasman traffic, however the current lounge is generally regarded by travellers as among the worst in Qantas’ international network
Flights are scheduled to begin in June, 2016, and will be operated daily with American’s Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
10:45 pm–6:35 am+2
AKL-LAX 1:20 pm–6:30 am (same day)
Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
Offering AC power, touch-screen AVOD systems, satellite wifi, and USB plugs, the 787 has many amenities for passengers, regardless of the class of service they choose. Business class holds 28 seats in a 1-2-1 forward/reverse configuration, while Main Cabin Extra and Main Cabin seating is arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration.
While the 787 will offer an excellent product for all passengers, those wishing to redeem miles for a sAAver award or use a systemwide upgrade shouldn’t hold their breath. With just 28 seats up-front, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine Auckland becoming just as tough as American’s flight from Dallas to Hong Kong or the soon to launch service to Sydney.
In addition to American’s flight from Los Angeles, United Airlines announced in early October that they would be re-starting service to Auckland from their San Francisco hub. United ended service to Auckland in 2003, shortly after entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Their service will begin with 3 weekly flights aboard a Boeing 787-8 in July, 2016, becoming daily with a Boeing 787-9 on October 28, 2016.
For many years, New Zealand was at the top of my list of countries to visit, though lack of award space on Air New Zealand and expensive revenue tickets kept me from visiting. Fortunately, as I worked towards draining my United account in 2014, I manged to visit Auckland and Christchurch for 10 days and had an excellent visit. With United launching service from SFO, American from LAX and Air New Zealand planning to launch service from Auckland to Houston in December, chances are that we will see a number of fare sales and many opportunities to visit such a unique country.