When American Airlines announced new Los Angeles – Sydney service this week, they teased possible flights to New Zealand.
The closer and more integrated relationship [between American and Qantas] also provides opportunities for future growth into trans-Pacific markets not currently served by either airline, such as New Zealand.
Of course Qantas used to fly Los Angeles – Auckland until May 2012, when they ceded the US non-stop market to Air New Zealand. The Star Alliance carrier flies from Los Angeles and San Francisco, and will be starting Houston service as well (and also flies from Vancouver and Honolulu). Air New Zealand even used to manage a Christchurch non-stop in addition to Auckland.
United promised Houston – Auckland flights, but then Southwest Airlines flights from Houston Hobby to Mexico made them uneconomical (United actually claims this).
While American will operate Sydney service with a Boeing 777-300ER, reducing the number of seats on a given flight that Qantas has been offering on a 747 by about 55 seats, the Auckland service would be new and is something that Qantas decided didn’t work for it with an A330. So I’d bet that an American Airlines 787 would be the launch aircraft for the route – smaller and more economical. That’s a great ride in business class but could be especially tight in coach.
Service wouldn’t likely be this year, but could come in 2016 or 2017.