Qantas, American Airlines to launch Auckland-Los Angeles flights

By David Flynn, November 11 2015
Qantas, American Airlines to launch Auckland-Los Angeles flights

Qantas and Oneworld alliance partner American Airlines will begin daily Auckland-Los Angeles flights in June 2016, breaking Air New Zealand's monopoly on the NZ-US route.

American will fly its latest Boeing 787 on the route, with Qantas feeding in passengers from Australia's east coast via codeshare flights in what Qantas CEO Alan Joyce noted would see a return to the "triangular route" which the Flying Kangaroo axed in 2012.

Flights will leave Auckland at 1.20pm to reach Los Angeles at 6.30am the same day, with the return leg outbound from LAX at 10.45pm for an Auckland arrival at 6.35am two days later.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker added that depending on the route's success, a second Auckland service to American's hub at Dallas Fort Worth – also shared by Qantas for its Sydney-Dallas flights – would be on the cards.

However, Parker believes the "vast majority" of passengers on American's flights will US travellers heading to New Zealand and then onto Australia with partner Qantas, rather than US-bound Kiwis.

Qantas connections a mixed bag

Travellers heading from Australia to catch the American Airlines flight will be in for an overnight stay at Auckland unless Qantas shuffles its trans-Tasman timetable.

While the AA flight will be wheels-up at 1.20pm, the earliest Qantas flight from Australia's east coast lands in Auckland at 2.10pm (based on the winter 2016 schedules) – unless you count the 5.15am touchdown from Melbourne which leaves you with eight hours to kill.

Flying across the pond from Auckland to Australia will tap into several Qantas services to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane due to American Airlines' early morning arrival time.

Busting the AirNZ monopoly

Today's announcement sees Qantas and American Airlines taking the fight to Air New Zealand on the Kiwi carrier's home turf.

Air New Zealand is currently unchallenged on New Zealand-United States routes with daily flights from Auckland to Los Angeles and San Francisco, with Houston to follow in December.

AirNZ flies those routes with Boeing 777-200 and 777-300 aircraft fitted with business class, premium economy and economy seats.

Star Alliance member United Airlines will also begin flying the Auckland-San Francisco route from July 2016, but in partnership with AirNZ rather than competition.

Qantas' decision to restart direct Sydney-San Francisco flights is also expected to eat into AirNZ's own Auckland-SF service, which some Australian business travellers choose over Qantas in order to avoid a transit stop for connecting flights at LAX.

In December this year American Airlines will commence Sydney-Los Angeles flights.

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 363

YES. About time Air New Zealand had some competition on the route. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 388

This will be with American Airlines metal won't it?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 569

That's what I'm reading too. QF to NZ and codeshare beyond. Which would essentially pave the way for any Aus city to US via NZ??

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Dec 2014

Total posts 284

I'd imagine a flight on QF metal from SYD-AKL then AKL-LAX on AA metal, or they might just put one aircraft on it.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1025

Would have to be. AA has many long haul aircraft coming from Boeing and as they rejig the Europe network, they'll have some ex-US A330s.

The QF fleet is fully committed. The only way they can get aircraft for more transpac flights is to cut back on other 747 flights or move QF127/128 and/or QF25/26 to A330 (or retime HND to only need 1 aircraft).

Though it is possible that they could do what they had over the last year or so of the AKL-LAX flights, using a A332 routing SYD-AKL-LAX-JFK-LAX-AKL-SYD across 6 flight numbers.

Any new move with the AA/QF transpac JV is likely to use AA metal 777s or 787s.

06 Jan 2015

Total posts 66

Note: This is not a Perth bias comment!

I think a better option would QF/AA going Perth-Auckland then LAX. Sydney/Melb/Bris traffic could still connect at AKL and provide Perth passengers with an easier 1 stop transfer. Not to mention, they would take on AirNZ's Perth-Auckland route which is one of their most profitable in their whole network. I've never been on that flight yet and seen it less than 90% full and there's always a full J and PE cabin.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 377

Qantas already fly Perth to Auckland on a seasonal basis. I am sure if they can tie this in with the AA flights and there is demand, they will do it.

06 Jan 2015

Total posts 66

Yep, It only runs on Saturday and Sunday though if I recall correctly? But like you have said, if demand is there they'll do it I guess.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

04 Sep 2012

Total posts 136

Interesting, although not surprising.

AA would have to imporve its products somewhat to compete. Does anyone know what aircraft will be servicing this route?

Hopefully this will lower fares (espcially J) as NZ's North American routes are quite expensive. However I'd assume this new carrier will attract US based passengers, rather than NZ.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jun 2011

Total posts 148

Their hard product is already up to scratch on their refreshed aircraft (new 777, 787, A321 etc.). Food could be a bit better, but they are improving there.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1425

Koru17 the article says a 787 is the plane they will be using

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 May 2012

Total posts 580

The US DOT still has some reservations about approving AA's SYD route:

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Dec 2011

Total posts 30

Wouldn't AKL-DFW make more sense than LAX?

or even new york

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1025

There would be range issues getting much more east of YVR/SEA/DEN/DFW/IAH from AU/NZ without stopping somewhere.

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 737

Not as the number one priority, I suppose. Plenty of money to be made competing directly with NZ on the LAX route. 

Besides, coming from AKL you don't save much distance to anywhere going via DFW unless you're actually going to the southeast. If you're going to New York, for instance, you only save about a hundred miles going via DFW instead of LAX. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 220

But save a whole world of pain transiting through DFW over LAX. Simple terminal to terminal transfer on the metro and easy transit

I'm being cynical, but I wonder if the AU to NZ leg is a way to ensure that AU/LAX sectors are not being cannibalised?

Although technically any NZ/LAX sector would be priced for the local market. Hence there is still a possiblity for arbitrage, albeit at a lower margin (taking into consideration the seperately booked AU/NZ ticket - assuming you're not redeeming!)

12 Feb 2014

Total posts 230

Makes sense. A transit in Auckland is much more appealing than the Sydney equivalent for many non-Sydney pax. Now to bring the Qantas lounge at Auckland up to scratch and make it a true hub.

Pity it will be on AA metal and not QF for the Auckland-LAX leg, but I'm guessing the lack of planes explains it. Qantas have maxxed out their utilisation of the current fleet. Bring on those 787s!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2012

Total posts 137

Business class seat Perth Auckland on a Qantas redeye and then AA business onto Houston would definately work for me! There's a whole lot of America that still needs Fracking.

18 Mar 2014

Total posts 96

Wouldn't PER-AKL-IAH on NZ be a much nicer experience with only one stop?!?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 475

I suspect he's referring to the once a week service offered by Qantas which is a red-eye to AKL...

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 125

I reckon PER-AKL-LAX flights would be good or BNE-AKL-LAX or even MEL-CHC-LAX?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 704

The CHC one is interesting in my opinion

As the flight would come from Australia no re-security would be needed 

Well at least thats currently CHC airports policy on transit flights with the same aircraft

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 363

CHC-LAX has been done by Air NZ and failed. If there was a business case for it, Air New Zealand would be all over it. They aren't because there's not

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

19 Apr 2014

Total posts 46

I don't see how this makes sense. Sydney to LAX already seems saturated (but I guess they have more staistics on that front than I) and with direct flights by both operators, why would anyone fly via AKL? 

Using the Adelaide or Peth markets would be a better option as these would also avoid navigating through the unfortunate atrocity that is the Sydney international transfer system.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 May 2012

Total posts 179

Just walked into the conference here in Wellington by accident. Said hello to Alan and the gang.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1378

How does QF feed into those flights from SYD/MEL - earliest current arrivals wouldn't work (around 1300)

You fly in the night before on QF151.

So far so good. The key is the price. Given NZ is the dominant player, I'm hoping AA would undercut and provide a good opportunity for abitrage. MEL/AKL in QF Y then AKL/LAX in AA J.

Let's see what the prices look like...


QF151 to connect to AKL/LAX & QF 154 to connect from LAX/AKL allows sufficient wiggle room for maneuver even if you cannot interline, which I doubt since it's OW policy to allow interline even when on different tickets.

But push comes to shove, there is still ample room to faciliate non-interline transfer!


undertheradar Banned
undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 654

if you're in that much of a hurry to get to LAX, then fly the numerous nonstop AUS-LAX services.  I'm guessing the majority/focus of this service (and I'm sure both airlines have crunched the numbers), will travel via AKL/NZ to 'break up' their trip/visit/stay in NZ for a period of time, so 'when' they leave OZ is of little relevance to 'when' the AA flight leaves AKL Same can apply to the LAX-AKL flight.  People will choose the service to visit/stay in NZ, then catch the numurous NZ-AUS flights, if the choose to visit OZ.  Think laterally and it all really makes sense :)

Air New Zealand - NZ*E

17 May 2015

Total posts 94

Provides yet more options for the transpacific routes with Auckland as an easy hub to transit from Australia.  This new route will provide many combinations with Oz (including seasonal Perth!!)  if the demand is there I am sure they will be very happy to add more flights. Two intresting points of difference are - 1. the departure times - this will be the earliest departure out of AKL making a same day arrival at LAX 6.30am - this means more onward connection options and 2. the choice of tin - this is a route where dreamliners will shine. New aircraft, good time slot and great connections with Australia, whats not to like. I am sure they will be price competative too - to be sucessful this goes without saying.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

23 May 2013

Total posts 44

I know Qantas aren't having to sacrifice any of their own aircraft in this arrangement, but I can't help but think that they should stick to improving flights and frequencies from their own market. Air New Zealand serves 25+ international routes on their own metal from Auckland, a city of only 1.5 million while Qantas only serves around 8 international destinations from Melbourne, a city of 4+ million and so called 'hub' airport. Plus Air New Zealand is planning on announcing two more international services by the end of the year. Alan Joyce should really be looking at the gaps in his own teritory before worrying about othes IMO.

12 Feb 2014

Total posts 230

 I can understand Joyce retaining a current Sydney hub model for flights to places like Manila, Jakarta, Santiago, Johannesburg and Bangkok. There would not be the demand for direct services from both Melbourne and Sydney, so traffic has to be funnelled through one or the other to fill the flights. As most inward pax want to head to Sydney, it's Melbourne that has to do the transit shuffle.

New aircraft are the key for better serving markets like Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Qantas has stretched current fleet capabilities to their maximum and is back in profit as a partial result. Until those 787s arrive, Qantas is going to have to rely on the bigger asset resources of Emirates and AA to fill the capacity gaps. It's a pretty smart strategy. I have no doubt the numbers have been crunched to the Nth degree on this new route. It'll make money from the get-go.

13 Nov 2015

Total posts 1

I don't understand why anyone travelling between Australia and the U.S. would connect in AKL and add hours to the journey. Return flights from AKL to LAX are much more expensive than return flights from BNE/SYD/MEL to LAX. Even with the added competition, I would still think that Australia to USA direct would be cheaper. But obviously I must be wrong.

18 Mar 2014

Total posts 96

Any airline, including NZ, price their flights differently depending on the region dynamics. For example, MEL-AKL-SFO can often be cheaper than AKL-SFO. 

A lot of Aussies use NZ because, until recently, there was really only LAX as an option. However QF are now doing SFO and UA has been for a while but considered a inferior experience. So many people based in BNE, MEL, ADL would prefer the AKL transit flying to places like SFO instead of LAX (or SYD for that matter). Also, if direct flights to LAX from Aussie are 20+% more, then I'm sure many would consider the AKL transit and NZ product worth that saving. 

13 Nov 2015

Total posts 49

Yes, you're correct. Another alternative, though longer, is to fly Aust.-Tokyo then to North America via QF/JL/ANA mix.  Japanese carriers have superb service in all cabins.  The other secondary routes are Aust.-TPE then EVA across the Pacific or to use Hawaiian Airlines, but no lie-flat seats yet.  UA service and J class seat layout is subpar, AA can be iffy, but their new 777-300ER J class seat is great.  The odd thing is that the demand for seats on the NA-Aust./NZ route is skyhigh, almost insatiable but there has for decades been very restricted service. Simply stunning what an A380 could bring to this route! 500,000 passengers a day travel between NA-EU Atlantic routes. One day I can see where 150,000 a day will travel NA-Aust/NZ Pacifc.

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