It is the first competitive volley by the US carrier which, in conjunction with Qantas, is taking on Air New Zealand on the route. The airline will begin the service using a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner on the Auckland-Los Angeles path in June. The Otago Daily Times reports that the cut-price fares will apply between October 15 and December 15. Wellington and Christchurch passengers will be charged an extra $100 each to get to Auckland.
The announcement will mean a major saving for travellers across the Pacific as Air New Zealand has been the only carrier on this route for the past four years. News of American Airlines decision last November to fly the route led Air New Zealand to reduce some of its Grabaseat airfares to LA to $499 – a saving on the normal fare of about $285. The average fare on the route, depending on the time of travel, hovers somewhere between $1,500 to $1,600. House of Travel has had offers of one way fares for $399 to the US.
Brent Thomas, the travel company’s commercial director said five years ago, return airfares were about double the cost that American Airlines are now offering. He said the added seats on the route would push down prices, adding that Kiwis would welcome the saving in the new competitive environment. The American Airlines vice president for Asia Pacific, Erwan Perhirin, said there will be intense competition because of the choice in the market. The carrier’s decision to re-enter the route after a gap of 24 years had led to strong demand for its flights, according to the vice president.