Air New Zealand to start non-stop Auckland to New York route in 2020

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(Reuters) - Air New Zealand Ltd AIR.NZ said on Wednesday it will launch a non-stop flight service between Auckland and New York in October 2020, in a bid to take advantage of strong visitor growth from North America.

New Zealand's flag carrier said it will use its 787-9 Dreamliner models made by Boeing Co BA.N for the new route.

In May, it had placed an order for eight Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner jets worth $2.7 billion in an effort to boost long-haul flight capacity.

With demand for air travel rapidly growing and aircraft performance improving, carriers are increasingly looking into ultra-long-haul travel.

Earlier this week, Australia's flag carrier Qantas QAN.AX completed a nonstop test flight to Sydney from New York, researching what impact the world's longest potential commercial airplane journey would have on pilots, crew and passengers.

On Wednesday, Air New Zealand also said it will stop the lower-performing Los Angeles-to-London route by the same date, which would allow it to direct the freed-up capacity to faster growing markets.

“Air New Zealand 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 increasing demand across the Pacific Rim,” acting Chief Executive Officer Jeff McDowall said in a statement.

McDowall added that the route withdrawal would result in the disestablishment of Air New Zealand’s London cabin crew base consisting of around 130 people and about 25 roles in its Hammersmith sales office and ground team.

The company added that the Los Angeles-London route will operate as scheduled until October 2020 and no tickets had been sold beyond the date.

Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Grant McCool