Ferocious competition and the economic downturn are forcing Air New Zealand (ANZ) to reduce the number of flights it operates between London and Hong Kong.
At present ANZ plies the route daily with three class B777-200s. However from September 23 the Wednesday flight is being axed, and from October 12 the Monday flight will also be dropped, cutting the service from seven to five flights a week.
Current schedules see NZ39 departing Hong Kong at 0830 and arriving into Heathrow the same day at 1435. The return flight NZ38 leaves Heathrow at 2105 to reach Hong Kong at 1750 the following day. Flights are configured for business, premium economy and regular economy class. ANZ does not offer a first class product.
ANZ’s London-Hong Kong flights continue on to Auckland. It is only the London to Hong Kong sector which is being withdrawn on the days in question. The airline has yet to make an official statement but the revised schedules are posted in airline booking systems.
Lacking the brand identity of the three leading carriers on the route (British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Atlantic) and with the drawback of an unfashionably early departure from Hong Kong, ANZ has had to tempt passengers with special fares and this will have depressed its earnings.
Current prices published on its UK website show ANZ charging return lead-in rates during the summer months of £413 return in economy class and £949 return for premium economy, with business class priced from £1,932.
It also means that members of the Star Alliance will no longer have the option of a daily flight on a route which is dominated by Oneworld member carriers.
For an indepth analysis of London-Hong Kong route carriers, subscribe to the July / August issue of Business Traveller.
For more information visit airnewzealand.co.uk.
Report by Alex McWhirter