Air New Zealand has confirmed it will withdraw its daily London-Los Angeles service from October next year.
The news comes as the carrier unveils the launch a new service between New York and Auckland from 2020.
Air New Zealand acting chief executive, Jeff McDowall, said, while it is hard to bid farewell such an iconic route, the airline must remain focused on markets with the greatest opportunity for long-term profitable growth.
“Air New Zealand is strongest when operating direct flights to and from our home base in Auckland and this reset will put us in the best possible position to take advantage of increasing demand across the Pacific Rim,” he added.
“Visitor growth to New Zealand is strongest from North America and performance of our new service between Chicago and Auckland is exceeding expectations.
“New York has been an aspiration for Air New Zealand for some time and withdrawal from the Atlantic will free up aircraft capacity to help make this milestone a reality.”
Air New Zealand will fly between its alliance partner United Airlines’ New York hub Newark Liberty International Airport and Auckland three times weekly, year-round, using its latest configuration Boeing 787-9 aircraft.
London-Los Angeles has been a flagship route for Air New Zealand and an important link connecting Europe to New Zealand since its launch in 1982, however McDowall explained market dynamics have changed in recent years.
“The number of ways to fly between London and Auckland has more than doubled in the past decade, changing customer preferences.
“Less than seven per cent of all airline travellers between London and Auckland chose to fly via Los Angeles last year.
“At the same time, the Atlantic has become one of the most hotly contested routes in the world and Air New Zealand lacks the home market advantages and scale of the European and North American airlines we’re up against.”
Europe, including the UK, remains a significant sales region for Air New Zealand.
Currently more than two thirds of revenue generated by its London team is unrelated to the Atlantic route and the airline will retain a sales, marketing and cargo presence in London to serve this important market, including after the cessation of its London-Los Angeles service.
Customers wishing to travel between London and New Zealand after October next will continue to have a variety of options with Air New Zealand and its airline partners offering more ways to New Zealand via 12 gateways, including New York.