Air New Zealand is to close down its Heathrow base next year because of falling demand from passengers.
The airline, which has been at Heathrow since 1994, operates only one route from London – Auckland via Los Angeles, and there has been a substantial decline in passenger loads in recent years, particularly of those undertaking the entire journey .
Quite simply customers have been voting with their feet, preferring an Asian connection for what is one of the world’s longest air routes.
It’s not just a matter of numbers, it’s a matter of a passenger convenience.
Travellers need to get an American visa just to change flights in Los Angeles and then face an often-significant wait in an immigration queue.
The journey can often take three hours longer than the alternative route via an Asian hub such as Singapore.
Air New Zealand plans to concentrate on its American routes instead.
“The number of ways to fly between Auckland and London has more than doubled in the past decade and this has changed travel preferences” said Jeff McDowall, the airline’s acting chief executive.
“The Atlantic has become one of the most hotly-contested routes in the world and we lack the market advantages and scale of the European and North American airlines”.
The closure will come in October next year at the end of the summer season.
It now plans to launch a direct service between Auckland and New York, a massive 8810-mile journey which can take over 15 hours non-stop.
Air New Zealand which currently operates out of Heathrow’s terminal 2, is a member of the Star Alliance and will be offering various code-share alternatives such via Singapore with Singapore Airl.ines and via New York with United.