Delta Air Lines is starting its first-ever scheduled service to New Zealand later this year as competition on routes between the Pacific Ocean island nation and the US begins to heat up.
The Atlanta-based carrier will add flights from its hub at Los Angeles to Auckland starting Oct. 28. Service on the 10,480-km (5,659-nm) sector will be daily using Airbus A350-900 aircraft.
Before the pandemic, both Air New Zealand and American Airlines offered nonstop flights between the destinations, flying 2X-daily and daily respectively, but American has opted not to return to the market. Instead, the US airline operates to Auckland daily from its Dallas-Fort Worth hub.
OAG data shows that Air New Zealand is therefore the sole operator of AKL-LAX flights at the present time, serving the route 10 times per week using Boeing 777-300ERs. Air Tahiti Nui also provides a 3X-weekly one-stop service, with an Auckland-Tahiti-Los Angeles routing.
However, the lower number of frequencies offered by Air New Zealand, combined with American’s exit from the sector, means that nonstop capacity between the cities is about 49% down on pre-pandemic levels. Delta will therefore be seeking to fill a gap in the market.