Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Air New Zealand drops London Heathrow to Los Angeles flights.

The London - Los Angeles has been a flagship route for Air New Zealand for a number of years and was a crucial link connecting New Zealand and Europe. Indeed, since its launch in 1982 it has provided UK holidaymakers with the ideal way to connect to New Zealand. I've travelled on the route a few times, each one with a full, or very nearly full load, however, changes in the way the airline manages the yield, as well as increased competition,  have had an effect on the route.

"Today Kiwis have more than twice the number of ways to fly to London than a decade ago and preferences have changed. Less than seven percent of all airline travellers between Auckland and London chose to fly via Los Angeles last year." Air New Zealand Acting Chief Executive Officer Jeff McDowall said. "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 North American and European airlines we're up against."

Axing the route will see more than 150 staff lose their jobs and a consultation process has already been started.  The airline has promised to work with unions to help staff find alternative jobs, but it is unlikely that will be with the carrier as no relocation package is being offered at this stage according to staff.

The London - Los Angeles will continue to operate as scheduled until October 2020, with no new tickets being sold beyond this date. Ironically, the axed route is the one that consistently achieves the highest customer satisfaction levels across the airline's international network.

Whilst Air New Zealand says the UK and Europe remain a key market, saying it will retain a sales and marketing team in London for a limited time after the route closes, many see this as the carrier turning its back on Europe completely. 

"We fully expect customers will want to take advantage of the many connection options on our partner networks through Air New Zealand's gateways in Asia and the Americas, including New York. It's important to us that customers continue to enjoy a seamless journey, and we'll be working closely with our partners to ensure the best experience and benefits for travellers,"  McDowall said.  yet there would be little point, better deals and connections are available with other airlines including Emirates and Qantas. 

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