16 Nov 2023

Cheaper flights: Influx of new airlines bringing benefits for travellers

3:12 pm on 16 November 2023
At newark airport, newark, NJ - December 31, 2016: United airlines airplane in the newark airport.

United Airlines began flying in and out of Auckland in October. Photo: 123RF

House of Travel says cheaper flights are on the horizon, particularly to North America because of strong competition in the sector.

It comes as Auckland Airport is set to be the departure point for seven airlines providing non-stop flights to eight cities in the US this summer.

One airline has advertised return economy flights for less than $1000.

House of Travel chief operating officer Brent Thomas told Morning Report having multiple airlines to choose from helped drive prices down.

"Where there's a monopoly or a duopoly, pricing typically stays higher, but we've got nearly 10 carriers flying into North America. It stimulates demand because of that lower pricing and New Zealand benefits from it," Thomas said.

He said the airfares for flights to the US were heading back towards pre-Covid prices.

"The American Airlines obviously coming in with a sub-$1000 airfare to Los Angeles out of Auckland, it brings us back to those 2019 days of the kind of airfares which really stimulate the demand into America and what we do know is there is high demand to go to America and beyond," Thomas said.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 24, 2020: Passenger aircraft Boeing 777 of American Airlines with registration number N782AN landing in International El Prat Airport in Barcelona

Photo: 123RF

Demand for travel was now at unprecedented levels and he expected that to continue into 2024.

"We saw in North America just yesterday, they announced why their inflation has dropped and one of the significant components of that was the travel part and we are seeing that all around the world," Thomas said.

"And New Zealanders are taking advantage of that, and they're travelling to all parts of the world not just in Australia and in the South Pacific but to Europe particularly as well."

But it was not just a case of everyone leaving Aotearoa to travel abroad, the extra flights meant more tourists were entering the country.

Auckland Airport chief customer officer Scott Tasker said having a major in-bound tourism market back in New Zealand was exciting.

"If we look through to January, we've got 27 more flights per week to North American destinations than we had back in January 2020. That really signals the level of demand out there to visit and enjoy what's on offer in New Zealand," Tasker said.

"That's come through a combination of exciting new routes like Qantas and Air New Zealand both launching non-stop connections to New York and American Airlines flying from Dallas-Fort Worth, plus new faces on existing routes.

"This summer we'll have seven airlines flying non-stop to eight North American cities."

These destinations included: Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver.

At the end of October Auckland airport welcomed new arrivals such as Delta Air Lines from Los Angeles and United Airlines, while American Airlines was introduced this month.

United Airlines said it would fly three times a week but would increase to four times a week next month, doubling the number of flights to New Zealand than it did in 2019.

It said it would soon have more flights between the US, New Zealand and to Australia than any other carrier in the world.

Tasker said another benefit of having more airlines was providing extra air cargo capacity for exporters.

"Fresh products like cherries, flowers and seafood rely on fast, efficient air connectivity to get out to the world. The impact of these non-stop connections from Auckland Airport to key Northern Hemisphere markets flows right out into regional New Zealand."

Meanwhile, the country's national carrier Air New Zealand has deals on flights across Aotearoa and to Australia.

Last month aviation expert Irene King warned international flights could be pricey next year due to capacity problems.

She made her comments after Hawaiian Airlines announced it would suspend its services in New Zealand from April to November next year because the routes were not profitable enough.

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