Air New Zealand will withdraw services between Hong Kong and London from 4 March 2013 as the airline focuses on returning its international network to profitability.
In a separate move which is part of Air New Zealand’s strategy to implement an alliance based network with a Pacific Rim focus, the airline has also formed a strategic agreement with Cathay Pacific on the Auckland - Hong Kong route.
Rob Fyfe, Chief Executive Officer, says a comprehensive review of the Hong Kong - London service has confirmed the route would not become profitable in the foreseeable future. A reduction of approximately 70 London based cabin crew roles is expected as a result.
"At the same time, we wanted to strengthen our presence in Hong Kong which is an important market and vital gateway into Mainland China for Air New Zealand. In line with this we have received approval from the New Zealand Ministry of Transport to form a strategic agreement with Cathay Pacific effective from 12 December 2012."
"The agreement will see both carriers continue to operate the same frequency between Auckland and Hong Kong while introducing code share on each other’s flights as well as opening up excellent connections between New Zealand and Mainland China," says Mr Fyfe.
Air New Zealand operates daily year round services between Auckland and Hong Kong while Cathay Pacific operates daily year round services and up to double daily in the peak period between 2 December and 1 March.
Air New Zealand customers will now also earn Airpoints Dollars on Cathay Pacific flights between Auckland and Hong Kong, and Airpoints and Koru members travelling on Air New Zealand flight numbers will receive lounge access and premium customer benefits on this route.
Mr Fyfe says the decision to exit from Hong Kong - London will enable more capacity to be redeployed onto the popular North American destinations of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Last month Air New Zealand announced a further 5,000 return seats to its North American routes through to the end of June 2013. Releasing capacity from Hong Kong - London enables the continuation of this additional capacity.
"We’re excited about our upcoming move to the Tom Bradley terminal at LAX where Air New Zealand has been contracted to design and operate a brand new and much improved Star Alliance lounge, making Los Angeles a great place to connect through to London or destinations further into Europe. We remain committed to servicing Europe via these daily Los Angeles - London services."
Customers currently holding tickets to commence travel with Air New Zealand between Hong Kong and London from March 4 2013 will be re-booked, in most cases onto Cathay Pacific’s services which depart within an hour of Air New Zealand’s existing service.
Customers will be contacted by Air New Zealand or their agent to confirm their re-booking and reissue their tickets. Air New Zealand is working through re-accommodating approximately 8,000 customers and most customers can expect to be contacted within the next couple of weeks.
Air New Zealand will honour Airpoints members’ frequent flyer programme points as per their original ticketed booking.
Air New Zealand first began operating services between Hong Kong and London in October 2006 and has operated between 5-7 times a week using a Boeing 777-200 aircraft.