Air New Zealand has announced it will withdraw its daily flights between London and Los Angeles from October 2020, but will launch a new service between Auckland and New York.

Chief executive Jeff McDowall said the decision to pull the route, which has been in operation since 1982, was made following a drop in demand for the flights.

McDowall explained: “The number of ways to fly between London and Auckland has more than doubled in the past decade, changing customer preferences. Less than 7 per cent of all airline travellers between London and Auckland chose to fly via Los Angeles last year.”

As a result of the withdrawal, McDowall said Air New Zealand will cut its London cabin crew base of “around 130 people and, subject to consultation, around 25 roles in our Hammersmith sales office and ground team”. He added the airline would help staff affected by the move to find new jobs, including looking for opportunities in other areas of the business.

The carrier will retain a sales, marketing and cargo presence in London to serve the European market, which it said is a “significant sales region”.

Customers wishing to travel with Air New Zealand to Auckland after October 2020 can do so via other routes and with the airline’s partners, including via New York, a new route being launched as the London service ends.

Air New Zealand will begin flying from its partner United Airlines’ hub at Newark Liberty International airport to Auckland three times a week on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, departing at 1905 and arriving at 0645 the following day local time. The return service will depart Auckland at 1955 and land at 1735 local time.

It will be the first ever direct flight from New York to Auckland, with a flight time of 17 hours and 40 minutes southbound and 15 hours and 40 minutes northbound.

The service will be operated by Air New Zealand’s redesigned Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which features a higher proportion of Business Premier and Premium Economy seats than previous configurations.

United Airlines will codeshare the flights, allowing customers to connect at Newark from across the US carrier’s network.

McDowall commented: “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.”

John Gebo, United’s senior VP of alliances, added: “We are excited to offer our shared customers another option when planning travel to beautiful New Zealand while conveniently connecting visitors to more than 90 destinations across the United States with just one-stop connections at our New York hub.”

The new route comes after Air New Zealand launched direct flights from Chicago to Auckland in 2018.

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