Qantas has announced plans to offer nonstop flights between Auckland and New York JFK next summer, as well as renewed investment in its regional airport lounges.

The new route will initially operate three-times-weekly from June 2023, using B787 Dreamliner aircraft.

It will form part of a revamped Sydney-New York service, which will have been on hiatus for some three years by the time its resumes next year. The route had previously routed via Honolulu, but will now stop in Auckland before continuing on a nonstop, 16-hour flight to New York.

The service has been made possible by the resumption of Boeing Dreamliner deliveries, of which Qantas now expects to take delivery of three next year.

The Sydney-Auckland-New York service will be a stop gap until 2025, when the Australian flag carrier hopes to be able to fly nonstop between Sydney and New York as part of Project Sunrise.

Qantas CEO: Project Sunrise is “final fix for the tyranny of distance”

Qantas will compete with Air New Zealand on the Auckland-New York route – the Kiwi carrier had planned to launch nonstop flights between the two cities in October 2020, but this was delayed due to Covid-19 and the service will now commence next month.

Qantas currently operates six daily flights to Auckland from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, a figure which will rise to 11 daily services when the new flight to New York launches.

Commenting on the news Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said:

“We’re back flying to most of our pre-Covid destinations, which is a fantastic achievement by our teams and so important for Australians reconnecting with the rest of the world.

“We can’t wait to return to New York and it’s made possible by the delivery of new aircraft, which have been caught up in delays that have impacted lots of airlines.

“Customer feedback on our direct London and Rome services show how well suited our Dreamliner cabins are to longer international flights like these, which is helped by the fact we designed them with more room and fewer seats than most of our competitors.

“We think this route will be very popular with Australians given the opportunity to connect via Auckland and it also gives New Zealanders more choice.”

In other news Qantas has resumed plans to redesign and expand its existing lounge at Auckland International airport – which had been put on hold due to Covid-19.

Two existing lounge spaces will be combined with an adjacent area and redeveloped into a single lounge, increasing capacity from 244 to 340 seats.

Qantas said that the lounge would remain operational during the works, and when completed “will offer a number of features specifically tailored for long haul travel, based on positive feedback from other parts of its network”.

Elsewhere the airline is set to open a new business lounge at Adelaide’s domestic airport, as well as upgrading its current Chairmans Lounge and Qantas Club facilities, and the carrier will also open a new lounge at Rockhampton airport, and a redeveloped facility at Port Hedland airport.

“We know how much our customers value being able to relax before their flight, whether they’re flying from a major regional port or an international hub,” said Joyce.

“Our new Auckland International lounge will be a step change in comfort. It will offer a lot more space and, like all of our offshore lounges, feature the best of local design, food and wine.”