is considering new routes to North America in the wake of dropping its plans to start a Houston-Auckland flight.
The New Zealand carrier has already stated it could introduce additional North American destinations when it starts receiving itsfrom 2014. However, Air NZ is now looking at adding services before then, CEO Rob Fyfe tells Aviation Week on the sidelines of the ’s annual meeting in Beijing. He notes that cities like Houston, Dallas and Denver are within the range of its current fleet.
Fyfe says Air NZ previously intended to launch new North American routes, but deferred these plans in 2010 when United announced plans to begin Auckland flights when its own 787s start arriving. “It made no sense” to start new service if United was going to enter the market, says Fyfe.
But United said last month that it is shelving plans for the Houston-Auckland route. The United move means Air NZ is once again “very interested in expanding our services,” Fyfe says. “There is definitely room” in this market for additional flights, he says.
Following the United deferral, Auckland Airport has revealed that it is in discussions with other overseas carriers to add new North American service, and says it is close to finalizing an agreement. Air NZ is disappointed at the airport’s apparent bias toward negotiating with a foreign carrier in this market, Fyfe says. The airline is keen to work with Auckland Airport to increase its own services.
Air NZ is currently the only carrier to fly directly between the U.S. and New Zealand, following’ decision to stop its flights on this route. However, Fyfe says there is substantial “competitive tension” in this market, thanks to connecting opportunities through Sydney and other hubs.
Meanwhile, Air NZ is continuing the review of international services that it launched last year. Routes, product, and code share partners are all under scrutiny.
One result has been Air NZ’s decision to swap fromto as its Japanese code-share partner. Fyfe says the review of airline partnerships is a “work in progress,” and discussions with other overseas airlines are underway. Announcements of new partnerships or expansions of existing arrangements are expected by the end of this year.
In terms of route changes, the international review has led to Air NZ cutting its Beijing flights so it can concentrate capacity on its Shanghai routes. Other changes announced so far include a new seasonal route to Bali, and additional frequencies to Hawaii, Perth, and Los Angeles.