The airline says it has also taken the decision to postpone the commencement of its non-stop Auckland-New York service from 29 October 2020 until late 2021 at the earliest.
Along with 95 percent of its international flying, Air New Zealand’s Buenos Aires and Los Angeles-London routes are currently suspended through to 30 June due to government travel bans and low demand.
Last year, the airline announced its plan to exit the Los Angeles-London route in October 2020 and in March brought forward the closure of its London cabin crew base.
Air New Zealand Chief Networks, Strategy and Alliances Officer, Nick Judd, says demand for international travel has been tracking at about five percent of pre-COVID-19 levels into June.
“It’s deeply disappointing to be in this position. Our people have worked tenaciously over the years to build these markets and excitement was growing for our non-stop New York flight,” he says.
“However, the effects of COVID-19 continue to bite; we expect most countries to take a cautious approach to international travel in the next year and we have to be pragmatic.
“Government travel restrictions will continue for some time and demand for our Los Angeles-London service is unlikely to recover before our planned exit in October. Argentina has been challenging before the pandemic and we don’t expect this market to recover quickly,” Judd says.
Air New Zealand is currently operating a limited international network through to 30 June to keep air links open for essential travel and cargo movement on key trade routes. Total capacity has been reduced to 95 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels and demand will be reviewed on a route-by-route basis before services are resumed.
The airline’s customer care team and contact centre are supporting those affected by these changes and customers will be contacted with options in coming days. Customers booked via a travel agent, including a third-party website (e.g. Expedia, Booking.com) should speak with their agent. Air New Zealand’s dedicated COVID-19 information hub is being updated continuously and customers should check this first, before calling the airline’s contact centre.
Prior to COVID-19, Air New Zealand operated a daily service between Los Angeles and London and up to five times weekly from Auckland to Buenos Aires.