Air New Zealand to drop Hong Kong to London service

Air New Zealand (ANZ) will withdraw services between Hong Kong and London from March 4, 2013, while it has agreed a new strategic partnership with Cathay Pacific in a seperate announcement.

There was speculation in January that the Kiwi carrier would drop its long-haul London services (see online news January 25) but it has confirmed there will be no changes to the daily London – Los Angeles – Auckland service.

Rob Fyfe, chief executive officer at ANZ, says extra capacity may be freed up for the popular North American services following the decision to drop Hong Kong-London. ANZ has recently opened a new Star Alliance lounge in the Tom Bradley international terminal at LAX (see online news July 30).

Fyfe says a comprehensive review of the Hong Kong – London service confirmed that the route would not become profitable in the foreseeable future. It is expected that around 70 London based cabin crew jobs will be cut as a result of this decision.

In a separate move the airline has formed a strategic agreement with Cathay Pacific on the Auckland – Hong Kong route, effective from December 12. This will see the two carriers codeshare on existing Auckland and Hong Kong services, while also providing ANZ passengers with connections to mainland China and beyond.

“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 December 12, 2012,” says Fyfe.

Air New Zealand customers will now 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, with Marco Polo Club members enjoying reciprocal benefits.

Around 8,000 customers currently holding tickets to travel between Hong Kong and London from March 4 will be contacted by the carrier and re-booked, in most cases onto Cathay Pacific’s services.

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Report by Scott Carey

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  • Bear in mind the extra capacity freed up is 2 777-200ERs. That’s a fair amount of capacity it can set free. Unless Air NZ could fill the route the entire way with a fair number of premium passengers, or capture a profitable niche of premium passengers LHR-HKG (difficult with BA, CX and VS dominating business O/D traffic from each end), this route was going to struggle.

    Maybe the Boeing 787-9s could make a difference in the long run, if the European economic outlook improves substantially, but for now, this makes sense.

  • And a legacy Star Alliance member getting into bed with a founding member of Oneworld. The world is clearly falling apart.

  • “In a separate move the airline has formed a strategic agreement with Cathay Pacific on the Auckland – Hong Kong route”

    I’m sorry, but I don’t see how this move can be described as separate. It’s clearly as a consequence of the cancellation of their own service on the route!

  • And another one bites the dust… That is three airlines abandoning the route in a year. Down from six.

    Now admittedly Hong Kong Airlines was never much of a player – the last (also only the second) flight the memsahib took on this route had all of 16 passengers – but that is still a significant capacity reduction on the route. Add to this the additional capacity reduction from CX running 777s instead of 747s on two of the four-daily flights, and a further reduction by introducing premium economy on some of the 747s.

    Altogether, no surprise that it is getting more and more expensive to get non-stop flights between HK and London.

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