American Airlines returns to New Zealand today, with the launch of its new Dallas – Fort Worth to Auckland flight. This is significant for several reasons.
- Currently New Zealand is only served non-stop from the U.S. by Air New Zealand and United, both Star Alliance. In addition to American’s Dallas flight, oneworld and joint venture service will grow to Auckland from New York, with a new Qantas flight as well (competing with Air New Zealand’s new flight that was recently launched).
- This is further buildup of American’s Dallas hub for Pacific travel. Qantas added Dallas – Melbourne to its existing Dallas – Sydney service this year, too.
American operates the route with a Boeing 787-9 with 30 business, 21 premium economy, and 234 coach seats, daily through March 25.
- Dallas Fort Worth – Auckland, 10:30 p.m. – 7:45 a.m.+2, American Airlines flight 35
Auckland – Dallas Fort Worth, 12:40 p.m. – 8:30 a.m., American Airlines flight 34
American Boeing 787-9 Business Class
I don’t see how American can make money on this route with only 30 business class seats in the cabin. US Airways management only understood premium leisure and business as an upgrade class. They made money on cheap connections and low costs. You can do that. But American Airlines is never going to be French Bee. With their costs the only path to profits high yields. (And in fact one of the business class seats on this flight is blocked, they only are selling to 29.)
Coach travel is available for as little as $375 plus tax each way. In contrast business class is frequently selling for 10x the prevailing price of coach.
Chief Commercial Officer Vasu Raja has been complaining about lack of business class seats to sell at least since 2018, while they were still removing business class seats from planes. They’ll be adding a lot of business seats but those won’t be here until starting 2024.
Air New Zealand, for its part, is moving from just 27 (outdated) business class seats to 42 seats, including a subset (“business premier luxe”) that is larger with a door. The seat is similar to the one American Airlines currently flies on its Boeing 787-9. While Air New Zealand’s soft product is better, and overall Air New Zealand might have been a better business class experience in 2015, I no longer believe this braggadocio is warranted:
Aw-Shucks, Doug & Alan, you both made us blush… Happy to welcome you to the #AirNZFanClub #airlineautotunehttps://t.co/lYeCeCgNWU
— Air New Zealand ✈️ (@FlyAirNZ) November 20, 2015
In fairness, this autotune was from when American Airlines and Qantas were looking for government approval of their revised joint venture – of course they’re going to talk up how great remaining competition is! American adding service from Dallas to New Zealand, and Qantas adding it to New York (though neither serves Los Angeles – Auckland any longer) is increased service and competition and the joint venture helps to support this.