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Air New Zealand to end UK flights with the closure of London Heathrow to Los Angeles route

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Air New Zealand is to end flights from the UK.

The airline announced last night that it is closing its route between London Heathrow and Los Angeles, which carried on to Auckland.  The route has operated since 1982.  The LA to Auckland flight will continue.

In some ways, closure was inevitable.  The ‘Middle Eastern 3’ have taken a big chunk of the market between Europe and New Zealand in recent years.  ANZ’s route from Heathrow via Hong Kong to Auckland was closed in 2013.

Air New Zealand to close Heathrow to Los Angeles route

In its press release yesterday, ANZ said that its market share between London and Auckland had fallen below 7%.  Unfortunately, the airline never managed to build up serious market share on the Heathrow to Los Angeles route which would have offset the low number of people choosing to carry on to Auckland.

On a personal level, I will be sorry to see Air New Zealand go.  It has been a strong supporter of Head for Points, and was one of the first airlines to work with us at a time when we were substantially smaller than we are now.

Back in 2015 we ran a competition to give away seats to Los Angeles, and as part of that I was given a private tour of the aircraft at Heathrow.  We also gave away a Hobbit-themed model aircraft at one point!  We kept in touch and it donated a prize for our Christmas Party raffle last year.  As late as February, Rhys reviewed their Premium Economy service between London and LA.  As late as last month, I was in their offices in Hammersmith looking at ways we could work together to promote them in 2020.

Unfortunately, all 130 UK based cabin crew and 25 of the staff in the Hammersmith office will now lose their jobs.  Some staff will be retained in London to handle sales and marketing to European companies with activities in New Zealand – apparently 2/3rd of the revenue generated by the London team was not related to flights out of the UK anyway.

Air New Zealand to close Heathrow to Los Angeles route

It’s not entirely the end of Air New Zealand ….

The airline is launching a New York to Auckland service in October 2020, once the London to LA flight has ended.

It will also be setting up codeshare and partner arrangements with other airlines for flights from London.  There will be 12 different routings available, some of which will connect to Air New Zealand for the final leg, via Asia and the Americas.

The final flight between Heathrow and Los Angeles will be in October 2020.

Comments (124)

  • JohnK says:

    It’s a shame to hear that the route is ending. Irrespective of anything else, more competition on a route is good for consumers. Hopefully they’ll have some kind of feeder service into their NYC route or it will feel like an opportunity wasted

    • C77 says:

      I agree. Especially with the recent Qantas evaluation flight into nonstop flying between JFK-SYD, I can fully understand NZ wants to be there first and can deploy a low yielding, less than full 777-300er on a more lucrative route than London. It’s still a shame though.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      They’ve got the whole of Australia as a feeder too remember – even if/when SYD-NYC becomes a regular event, the rest of us, who have to connect in SYD, aren’t inconvenienced any more by a transfer in AKL (arguably less so, as we fly from international terminals at our home airports, and don’t have to deal with immi and the transfer bus of hell in SYD).

  • Hank Wakai says:

    That’s what happens when your government starts threatening visitors with a $5,000 fine for not giving up their passwords on demand at immigration.

    • John says:

      Yes and I’m not a fan of the new NZ$47 entry tax either (plus optional $3 fee for not owning a phone or being paranoid that they will hijack it), but do you really think more than 1% of visitors care about these things?

      I mean most HFP readers still love to visit the USA.

      • Callum says:

        Agreed. While it’s definitely an overrated destination, I see no signs of the huge tourist influx slowing down anytime soon.

        • Mikeact says:

          Not sure why you would say it’s a totally overrated destination? I would have to disagree.
          I’m sorry too, that they are calling it a day. It’ll be a fair run from NewYork…not far short of 9000 miles.

          • Callum says:

            Because almost everything people like about New Zealand is easily accessible in other countries – many of which are easier to travel to/around, cheaper and more impressive.

            Note that I didn’t say it’s a bad place (I live here!), just overrated.

          • Rob says:

            I’ve never been to Australia for similar reasons.

          • marcw says:

            I guess you can go to Scandinavia and live similar experiences…

          • Rob says:

            Fifth longest flight in the world, apparently.

          • guesswho2000 says:

            @Callum agreed, same in Australia, a lot of similarity to the UK (hardly surprising, given both’s colonial heritage), but with better weather…(Aussie anyway, NZ has UK weather ;o))…even property prices are heading the same ridiculous way.

            The distance is something that gets to me sometimes, for various reasons I can see why people return to the UK. After regularly flying from the South Pacific, everything else seems close – even my OH remarked while we were in Canada last year that “we could visit the UK for the weekend if we lived here”.

            It’s not bad by a long stretch, I have no regrets, but it’s not the Utopia people sometimes expect (my eyes were wide open, I spent years trekking back and forth before relocating). That said, I notice the traffic in London so much more now, even if everything in the UK does seem really close to everything else.

          • Cat says:

            Callum – kiwis in the wild, hot springs on beaches, glacier hiking and ice climbing, sand boarding into the sea with rays swimming around you, hiking up Mount Doom, kayaking in a fjord so far away from anyone else, you can’t here another man made noise at all, views of the milky way at night that blow your mind, and that incredible left-hand break.
            There aren’t many places in the world that can offer any of them, certainly not all of them!
            I want to go back, but it seems so far for just a 2 week trip, and I just don’t want to spend my summer holidays enjoying winter!

          • Louie says:

            @guesswho2000 – are you serious? Today we’ve had to take avoiding action to miss running into both an emu and a kangaroo. Never used to have that problem in Tunbridge Wells…..

            Yes the distances are greater, but given outside Sydney and Melbourne the traffic actually moves, you get where you want to go far quicker than you would do in the UK.

          • Callum says:

            Cat – The overwhelming majority of people will never see a wild kiwi. Are you talking about hot water beach? People here tend to laugh at those who think that’s anything special! Glacier and ice hiking are far more impressive in numerous places I’ve been, Patagonia being one of the highlights. The ocean is freezing and you can sandboard anywhere. Mount Doom is a generic volcano and is actually pretty small (but if you’re obsessed with Lord of the Rings, I suppose is the only thing on your list that you can’t find elsewhere!) and there are countless fjords right on your doorstep in Norway.

            Most of those things can also be found in equally close proximity in other countries – if you think you can’t then you’ve been fooled by their astute marketing!

          • Cat says:

            I saw a kiwi in the wild. The tongariro crossing was an absolutely stunning hike. You may laugh at hot water beach and are welcome to do so, but it’s great fun, and it’s not something you get to do everywhere. The view of the milky way from the Kauri forest I went to in Northland was more stunning than from the middle of the Gobi desert (also – TOUS’ trees of unusual size!). The water was lovely when I sandboarded into it (and the rays seemed happy with the temperature too). Not to mention the left hand break.
            What country can I see all, or most, of these things in such close proximity then? If I’ve been brainwashed, enlighten me.

          • guesswho2000 says:

            @Louie fair point, emus aren’t generally much of a problem in Victoria, but I’ve definitely conflicted with my fair share of roos.

            And yes, traffic was part of my last point, London seems insane now, even compared to Melbourne, and the freeways (e.g. Calder north of Sunbury, Western west of Melton) move well, unlike the M1, which is essentially a car park all the way to the A421!

          • yorkieflyer says:

            Crossed it off my bucket list when I found out that Hobbitland was a major attraction….

          • Callum says:

            Cat – You probably won’t see this (sorry for the delay!), but there are many countries you can do all of those things in (though given that’s a very specific list of random things which you have tailored around New Zealand specifically, it’s a very loaded question). The one that immediately springs to mind is Chile – you can do all those things (except seeing a Kiwi, which again, good for you but hardly ANYONE gets to see) in Chile on a much lower budget with significantly more varied scenery and the exact same “scenic features” you describe loving on a much grander scale.

            Shoestring – Not really. Most of the stuff Cat has listed is free or low cost, I’ve done all of them on a budget of close to nothing. The cost of living is shameful, privately run tourist attractions are highly expensive but NZ can be experienced on the cheap (just like most other expensive countries can – perhaps not in the style you’re accustomed to!).

        • Shoestring says:

          people who live in NZ say it’s over-rated (as a tourist destination) because they can’t afford the tourist stuff

    • TripRep says:

      Hank do you mean NZ or USA, anyone else know of other countries that do this?

      Does sound quite Orwellian.

  • C77 says:

    LAX transit facilities for passengers connecting on to/from NZ are quite grim compared to pretty much every other transit point between UK and NZ outside the USA. You also need to apply and pay for an ESTA even if you’re just in transit and not stopping in LA It’s just unfortunate that the most direct air route between UK and NZ flies over the US. This was the reason I stopped flying this way down to NZ when ESTA was introduced. It’s a shame though as I always considered the service on board to be exceptional.

    Interesting the article cites a sub 7% market share on LON-LAX as a reason. A quick check shows 11 daily services on any given day between LON and LAX:

    3 BA
    2 VS
    2 AA
    2 DY
    1 UA
    1 NZ

    Given the One world strong hold in the UK, the UK market brand loyalty towards Virgin and price competitive fares on Norwegian hoovering up the budget savvy, I’m not surprised market share is sub 7%. Then again I’ve not exactly seen NZ do anything positive to actively increase on this in recent years. Perhaps they’re too busy wooing Europeans to book via other cities….

    • John says:

      The most direct route between LHR and AKL overflies Magadan, Russia, not taking into account air currents. The most direct practical transit point is Tokyo.

      More New Zealanders want to visit the US than want to visit Hong Kong, and the number of HK New Zealanders is pretty small, thus I’m not surprised that LAX was favoured.

      The population of the Heathrow catchment area is 3-4x the entire population of New Zealand. BA stopped flying to New Zealand years ago, so not surprised at this either. LHR-AKL direct is unlikely to ever be economically viable even if it becomes physically viable.

      • C77 says:

        And given you have to stop somewhere between UK and NZ and the lack of diversion cities in Siberia, I can see why LA was a popular option…. And no doubt inherent of an already established network in and around the Pacific.

      • Mr. AC says:

        Fun fact – 8M people listened to a Russian song “Going to Magadan” on YouTube, which is 80 times more than the actual population of Magadan.

  • Jake says:

    Also worth mentioning that air NZ offered really good Black Friday sales. Shame to see those go.

    I managed to bag 2x tickets to LA for £175 each a couple of years ago. NZ was only £400 as well

    • Catalan says:

      Hence why the route was never going to be profitable for them!

    • Michael C says:

      Same. I got a great deal on the SkyCouch which wasn’t exactly comfortable for two 6′ men but worth it to have the space. Only cost us something like 400 return.

  • Graeme says:

    Shame purely for sentimental reasons, as London to Auckland via LAX on NZ was the first long haul business trip I ever look back in the 90’s, which led to me being seconded out there for a while.

  • Paul says:

    Surely one reason for the failure of the route is that Air NZ never offered any sort of discounting. The fares in J from LHR to LA and AKL were always significantly higher and more often than not the most expensive of any carrier. Nor was there any deals from the EU.
    Inevitable in those circumstances and indeed wasting a frame to plough up and down to LHR was something BA recognised a very long time ago. Does raise questions about BA SYD route too

    • John says:

      Surely offering discounts would make them lose money faster. Unlike state-supported ME airlines.

      • Rob says:

        Emirates is not state supported. The truth is that my Mum could run a profitable airline if the majority of the worlds population was easily connected to it, if it sat in the middle of the current trade and tourism routes and had a hub airport running 24/7 with fuel efficient modern aircraft.

        My wife’s bank leases planes to Emirates at standard commercial rates. Everyone pays the same for fuel. Staff costs are low but that is a function of the local market. Airbus and Boeing sell it planes at standard prices. The Government built the airport but all airlines use that.

        Remember that Oman Air paid $75m for ONE Heathrow slot pair a couple of years ago, whereas BA was given 50% of airport capacity for free.

        • marcw says:

          Ask your Mum to operate Etihad profitably – perhaps she can turn the company around.

        • Alex Sm says:

          A great point, Rob. It has become a commonplace for some in the West to casually blame ME3 for “subsidies” as an excuse for their own failures

          • marcw says:

            It’s not subsidises by definition. But they have a free-cash tap. Tell me how the hell Qatar Airways, launched in 1994 with a couple of planes has 222 planes today. It’s impossible to grow organically that fast. Again, it’s a private company owned by the Qatari Government. Qatar Airways is just another political-marketing actor.

          • Rob says:

            Qatar is different, I agree. Emirates and Etihad both stand on their own two feet though. And, as I said earlier, when you have to pay $75m for a Heathrow landing slot vs BA getting them for nothing it tends to balance out …

            Why are not angry about Thai Airways though, or South African, which is about to blow its 3rd recent bailout? At least with the ME3 you can see where the money goes.

            These are teeny tiny places, not even countries. It is best if you see them as a company. One arm of the company goes well (eg oil) leaving you with surplus funds, which you reinvest into new businesses. It’s not as if anyone who lives there pays any tax, so you can’t even say that the locals are funding it. The money would just be sitting in the pockets on the ruling families otherwise ….

    • Alex Sm says:

      IIRC, there was a big sale last winter where @Rhys got his supercheap ticket

  • Nick_C says:

    Flew with them to Hawaii in 1983. GTW to HNL took just 18 hours, including 90 minutes to change planes at LAX.

    The ground arrangements at LAX back then were excellent.

    The incoming flight from GTW continued to Aukland. I’m pretty sure the Hawaii flight continued to Sydney. The two planes were at adjacent gates at LAX. US Immigration was carried out at the gate. Porters had my hold baggage available to show to US Customs, and then it was immediately loaded onto the connecting flight.

    The flight to Honolulu had about 12 people in Economy. After my third roast lamb of the day (served on China) I stretched out in a middle block of four, and woke some time later to find one of the cabin crew had covered me with a blanket and put a pillow under my head while I was sleeping.

    Loved the Burberry aftershave in the washrooms. It became my favourite brand for some years.

    ANZ was marketed back then as “The Ritz of the Skies”. The front of the 747 was painted with a Top Hat and Cane.

    The Hawaii connection sadly ended years ago. Sorry to see that they will no longer serve the UK.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      GTW=Holesov airport, Czech Republic, closed in 2009?

      Presume you mean LGW?

    • Mikeact says:

      I too, was on an early 80’s flight to Auckland from Los Angeles….showing our age now… fact I still have the boarding cards amongst all my flying memorabilia . All I recall is arriving for a meeting and going straight back ,same plane, different crew.

  • Nathan says:

    If I were to compile a list of places to transit en route to NZ, LAX would be last on it. It’s a complete hole.
    Tokyo just works. Middle East? Meh. Incheon I like and recommend Seoul as an interesting stopover. But Changi just blows me away.
    My redemption target remains AKL via Santiago, somehow!

    • marcw says:

      Be quick before LATAM leaves oneworld.

    • Mikeact says:

      How about Doha with Qatar ?

      • Jake says:

        Doha is alright.

        Stayed at the four seasons there. Lovely hotel.

        Really nice beach and great food etc

        The whole place though is a little soulless. Things are improving but it doesn’t compare to Dubai.

        For an interesting stop over between NZ and UK what about Manila, KL or Vietnam? Not sure if all airlines from those hubs fly to both UK and NZ but, if they do there is tons more character than Doha. The quality of flight however may be less.

        • Shoestring says:

          soul-less? you might as well go to a 5* prison camp (which is where you were, of course)

          as in – given the beach/ hotel/ food/ weather were great, it would be hard to say there’s anything else remotely special about Doha

          even if you got treated well by a hotel staff guestworker from India/ Pakistan/ Philippines etc, that doesn’t say much about Qatar

          • Jake says:

            Not quite, we hired a car: Went to a camel racing track/ farm, went to the souk, MIA etc.

            There just wasn’t much “feel” to the place. Probably due to the relative lack of tourism compared to other gulf areas there wasn’t the warmth from the locals.

          • Jake says:

            Doha was the destination – went to Qatar for a holiday. Fancied somewhere else in the Middle East compared to UAE or Oman.

            Probably wouldn’t go again.

            Hmmmmm not sure about spending all my time at the destination – I think it can be great to have a mix and match – then you have two destinations in one!

            I once did Dubai via Moscow on Aeroflot. Doing London, Moscow and Dubai in 10 days was great. The contrasts were stark and interesting.

          • Russ says:

            Well I can see Shoestring and I are never going to agree on Qatar 🙂 To be fair I think they need to do something about the jellyfish. Can’t see too many families going there if they have to keep out of the water.

          • Rob says:

            Based on my Dubai experiences, they come and go – it isn’t a permanent issue. Some years there are warnings, other times it is fine. No issues when I was there last month.

          • Shoestring says:

            I was there for about 6 months, in the water most afternoons and all day on Fridays as well – we had a very cool company speedboat and the working day finished at 1.30pm so used to go off water skiing most afternoons – you’re looking at one helluva good water skier lol, mono ski my thing

            never brushed into a jellyfish so must be a temporary menace

            also a pretty good snow skier from my time working in Europe, must get back on the snow tbh been too long

          • Jake says:

            I landed today. Beach tomorrow.

            Here’s hoping to a jelly fish free day otherwise I might have to brush up on the Amex travel insurance contact number…

          • Shoestring says:

            there’s only one way to get jellyfished on Fridays and that’s brunch!

            Champagne & sausages, if your hotel isn’t a player, spend Thursday finding out where to go brunching on Friday

    • Jake says:

      Santiago is a great city. Surrounded by “the great outdoors” with plenty of city sights to keep you busy. By South American standards it’s modern, clean and safe. Highly recommend. Could easily do a few days in the city and a few days in the mountains as a NZ stopover (assuming its a long trip)

      • Bagoly says:

        Glad to hear it.
        We are going via MAD in February.
        Have been a bit concerned by news last few days!

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