American Airlines Returns To New Zealand Today

American Airlines returns to New Zealand today, with the launch of its new Dallas – Fort Worth to Auckland flight. This is significant for several reasons.

  • Currently New Zealand is only served non-stop from the U.S. by Air New Zealand and United, both Star Alliance. In addition to American’s Dallas flight, oneworld and joint venture service will grow to Auckland from New York, with a new Qantas flight as well (competing with Air New Zealand’s new flight that was recently launched).

  • This is further buildup of American’s Dallas hub for Pacific travel. Qantas added Dallas – Melbourne to its existing Dallas – Sydney service this year, too.

American operates the route with a Boeing 787-9 with 30 business, 21 premium economy, and 234 coach seats, daily through March 25.

    Dallas Fort Worth – Auckland, 10:30 p.m. – 7:45 a.m.+2, American Airlines flight 35
    Auckland – Dallas Fort Worth, 12:40 p.m. – 8:30 a.m., American Airlines flight 34

American Boeing 787-9 Business Class

I don’t see how American can make money on this route with only 30 business class seats in the cabin. US Airways management only understood premium leisure and business as an upgrade class. They made money on cheap connections and low costs. You can do that. But American Airlines is never going to be French Bee. With their costs the only path to profits high yields. (And in fact one of the business class seats on this flight is blocked, they only are selling to 29.)

Coach travel is available for as little as $375 plus tax each way. In contrast business class is frequently selling for 10x the prevailing price of coach.

Chief Commercial Officer Vasu Raja has been complaining about lack of business class seats to sell at least since 2018, while they were still removing business class seats from planes. They’ll be adding a lot of business seats but those won’t be here until starting 2024.

Air New Zealand, for its part, is moving from just 27 (outdated) business class seats to 42 seats, including a subset (“business premier luxe”) that is larger with a door. The seat is similar to the one American Airlines currently flies on its Boeing 787-9. While Air New Zealand’s soft product is better, and overall Air New Zealand might have been a better business class experience in 2015, I no longer believe this braggadocio is warranted:

In fairness, this autotune was from when American Airlines and Qantas were looking for government approval of their revised joint venture – of course they’re going to talk up how great remaining competition is! American adding service from Dallas to New Zealand, and Qantas adding it to New York (though neither serves Los Angeles – Auckland any longer) is increased service and competition and the joint venture helps to support this.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. while airlines do not publicly break out revenues for S. Pacific routes vs. the entire Pacific, AA has lost billions of dollars flying the Pacific for over a decade and repeatedly said that it doesn’t make money flying to Australia – which is very notable considering the connection with Qantas and the fact that DL and UA have both increased Australia service and done so much sooner than AA has added New Zealand.
    Maybe the NZ market is significantly different from Australia but the primary difference is that NZ has very low amounts of business travel – which means that even if AA had larger business class cabins on some aircraft, NZ would probably be the last place to use them.
    AA also revenue manages its cabins – all of them. Quoting a “fares as low as” mean nothing. How well they balance their lowest promotional fares with their highest prices even for coach is all that matters.

  2. Well, let’s just see how long this route lasts. I’m guessing less than one year.
    300K to 400K for a business award ticket one-way, with a few 175K awards sprinkled in the mix.

  3. We’ll just have to see if they can load enough food this time. Hopefully not pull a UA on you Gary.

  4. Tim Dunn, if we’re talking nonsense, AA is going to make European destinations (other than London) seasonal routes but it’s going to launch service to New Zealand? If we’re talking nonsense, how about AA’s JFK-DFW-FRA routing? Or, AA will fly non-stop from CLT or DFW to FCO . . . but not from JFK? It is hard to fathom exactly what is driving AA management’s thinking.

    We’ve heard “the network *is* the product.” It’s becoming a product that I less and less want to buy.

  5. Lee,
    after 40 years of domestic deregulation, the trend is pretty clear. American has not been able to compete against either Delta or United or most foreign carriers in the largest and most competitive markets. United has literally cleaned American’s clock at ORD where AA operates to just a single longhaul destination on a year round basis. In both NY and LA, AA has had and then cancelled scores of longhaul international markets only to have competitors including DL be able to make them work – or not ever try those same markets in favor of others.
    AA has tried to turn major parts of its west coast and NE operations over to domestic competitors under partnerships and hope that customers see them as one when DL and UA manage to compete in the same markets on their own – and customers don’t buy the “unity” of AA’s partnerships.

    AA’s international network is increasingly revolving around CLT, DFW and MIA, all hubs which it can dominate even if CLT and DFW have a fraction of the international demand that NYC, CHI, and LA have.

    The real reason is that AA is simply not cost competitive – driven by the fact that it takes tens of thousands more employees than DL or UA to generate comparable amounts of revenue, even when adjusted for wholly owned subsidiaries and outsourcing. AA runs the most passengers it can through CLT and DFW – very efficient hubs – but won’t close poorly performing hubs like ORD (for clear strategic reasons) or PHL so they continue to run a very inefficient operation.

    Doug Parker promised that the new AA (post AA/US merger) would be a global competitor to DL and UA and that simply has not happened. Until AA deals with its cost issue and gets rid of inefficient and costly hubs, they will continue to shrink a smaller international network that is based around its largest and lowest cost domestic hubs which can compete for plenty of flow traffic even if that type of network misses the major business centers that are essential for a global carrier to compete in.

  6. My flight from DFW to AKL has been wait listed for months and hasn’t cleared as an emerald
    4 days from departure
    I will likely cancel and fly Qantas to Australia on the A380 out of LA skipping New Z entirely
    That said I will never use a systemwide ever again.on an AA Int segment
    either I’ll give them away or blow them out on a domestic route where they are actually usable
    Not into the lottery of hopefully clearing

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