The Manhattan skyline will greet flyers barely 16 hours after passengers take off from Auckland on planned Dreamliner flights. Photo / 123RF
Qantas plans to bounce back from three years of massive losses with a direct challenge to Air New Zealand on the Auckland-New York route.
The airline today posted its third straight loss of more than
NZ$1 billion, attributing its woes to Delta, Omicron and high costs from restarting after lockdowns.
But Qantas also announced a new Auckland-New York route starting next June on the 787 Dreamliner.
The Sydney-Auckland-New York flights go on sale today.
The immense journey from New Zealand’s biggest city to New York takes about 16-and-a-quarter hours.
And due to jet streams in the northern hemisphere, the return flight is about 17 and a half hours.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said feedback from flyers showed Dreamliner cabins were well-suited to longer international flights.
Joyce took a jab at Qantas’ rivals, saying the Australian company’s Dreamliners had more room and fewer seats than most of its competitors had.
“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,” Joyce added.
Qantas said it would expand trans-Tasman flights too.
Currently six daily Qantas services fly from Auckland to the eastern seaboard’s three biggest cities.
But from next June there will be 11 daily flights from Auckland to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
The Qantas Group has promised a complete upgrade of its Auckland lounge.
“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,” Joyce said.
The airline had a dismal year but said with lockdowns and major Covid-19 outbreaks receding into history, it was poised to bounce back.
“With the existential crisis posed by the pandemic now over, the group is focused on responding to current operational challenges.”
The airline said it was raising its game on call center wait times, cancellation rates and mishandled bag rates.
It said all these performance measures were heading back to rates comparable with pre-Covid levels.
Qantas in the past week has resorted to offering frequent flyers A$50 travel credits in a bid to win back favor after a cavalcade of complaints.
The company today posted an underlying loss before tax of A1.86b ($2.08b) and statutory loss before tax of A$1.19b.
Underlying ebitda was A$281 million and Qantas said net debt fell to A$3.94b, below target range.
The airline also promised a big upgrade to staff travel benefits.
The Qantas results were announced a couple of hours after Air New Zealand posted a net loss of NZ$591 million in the year to June 30.
Air NZ blamed its loss on soaring labor and fuel expenses and the stifling impact on flights from lockdowns, even though its revenue rose from $2.517b to $2.734b.
The airline will start direct Auckland-New York flights on September 17.
Air New Zealand Chair Dame Therese Walsh today said the airline had been preparing for the launch of direct flights to JFK International Airport.
Walsh said Air NZ was also completing designs for its own new Boeing 787 Dreamliner cabin experience.