MIAMI — Air New Zealand will be axing one of its most historical routes after 36 years of operation. The airline will no longer operate its ANZ001 daily service from Auckland to London (via Los Angeles) in October 2020, giving way to the airline’s new ambitious nonstop service to Newark.

The airline said that the London service will be replaced with an all-new direct flight between Auckland and Newark in the United States.

ZK-NZP, an Air New Zealand-operated McDonnell Douglas DC-10, lands at London Heathrow Airport in July 1977.

Unfortunately, the airline’s 130 staff that are based in London-Heathrow will be dearly affected by the airline’s closure of this route, which launched in 1982.

In recent years, Air New Zealand has operated the Auckland – Los Angeles – London service with its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. However, the new route to Newark will be operated with the much newer and more fuel-efficient 787-9 Dreamliner.

Air New Zealand’s new route to Newark will put the Kiwi airline near the top of the world’s longest commercial flights. At a staggering 14,178 km long, the new flight stands as the sixth-longest, with a block time of 17 hours and 43 minutes.

Air New Zealand acting chief executive officer Jeff McDowall, said that the airline “is strongest when operating direct flights to and from our home base and this reset will put us in the best possible position to take advantage of the increasing demand across the Pacific Rim.”

Photo: Darren Koch

McDowall also regretted shutting down its base in London. “Sadly, the withdrawal will see the disestablishment of our London cabin crew base of around 130 people and, subject to consultation, around 25 roles in our Hammersmith sales office and ground team,” he said.

“We will be working with our people and their union to help with the next steps in their career, including looking at opportunities in other areas of the airline,” the acting CEO affirmed.

The new route to Newark becomes Air New Zealand’s sixth US destination. Currently, the carrier flies to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Hawaii, and Chicago-O’Hare. 

According to the airline, the departing flight to Newark will leave Auckland at 19:55 on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, landing at 17:35 local time, two calendar days later.

The return journey will leave Newark at 19:05 on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays and arrive in Auckland at 06:45.

Starting from October 29, 2020, Air New Zealand will launch the new service with a less dense Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The carrier calls it a “premium-focused” configuration, which will feature more Business Class and Premium Economy seats.

Photo: Bahnfrend

Air New Zealand confirms that the 787-9 will be fitted with 275 seats, including 27 in Business Class, 33 in Premium Economy, and 215 in Economy.

The new service to Newark will also connect with United’s extensive network of more than 400 destinations. According to Vinay Bhaskara, Airways Senior Business Analyst, connecting through Newark on a nonstop flight to New Zealand is going to be a tremendous success. “It’s going to cut travel times from connecting origin/destinations by more than five hours,” he said.

Even though it is sad to see the London station closed, the aperture of a new ultra-long-haul route is certainly a tremendous achievement for Air New Zealand and the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Coincidentally, Qantas just performed its first Project Sunrise test flight between New York-JFK and Sydney, also on a 787-9.