American Airlines recently announced that they will begin service between Los Angeles (LAX) and Auckland (AKL) using their Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Having placed 42 firm orders for the Boeing 787 aircraft, with the right to acquire an additional 58, they have begun taking delivery since earlier this year. American already has the youngest fleet of the U.S. global network carriers, with an average aircraft age of 12.3 years.
American Airlines welcomed the Dreamliner into its fleet earlier this year with service between Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) beginning May 7, before launching internationally between DFW and Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) beginning June 2.
The addition of service to Auckland follows the aggressive expansion of routes originating from LAX undertaken by American Airlines. In early October, they began service between LAX and Shanghai (PVG) and on 5th November they commenced flights between LAX and São Paulo (GRU). The addition of Auckland to their growing long-haul network out of LAX clearly shows their expanding reach across the Pacific.
Currently, there are around 882 flights per month connecting Australia/New Zealand to North America with the Los Angeles – Sydney (SYD) route being the busiest. It is operated by Delta Airlines, Qantas, United, and Virgin Australia. Additionally, in December American Airlines will commence flights on this route.
Auckland, which is the seventh populated city in the region, has been well-connected to the west coast of North America mainly by Air New Zealand. The move to begin the LAX-AKL route will pose threat to Air New Zealand, who remain currently unchallenged on routes between New Zealand and North America with daily flights from Auckland to Los Angeles and San Francisco, with Houston to follow in December. Air New Zealand uses the Boeing 777-200ER and 777-300 aircraft fitted with business class, premium economy, and economy seats.. They have the highest frequency of flights between New Zealand and North America with over 100 flights departing Auckland per month for Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver.Additionally, starting July 2016, Star Alliance member United Airlines will also begin flying the Auckland – San Francisco (SFO) route in partnership with Air New Zealand. On the contrary, Qantas’ decision to restart direct Sydney-San Francisco flights is expected to affect Air New Zealand’s AKL-SFO service.
American Airlines have certainly made their intentions clear with the addition of this route, which has certainly changed the competitive landscape. From 2016 onwards, with new airlines joining the trans-Pacific market, a much tighter contest can be expected, with the product, service, and network of each competitor playing a massive role in future market share.