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Qantas alliance with AA bigger, stronger

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/06/2016

The start of direct flights between Auckland and Los Angeles by American Airlines will increase New Zealand and Australia's connectivity with the US, a Qantas executive says.

The new daily non-stop American Airlines service using Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners adds almost 1600 seats a week on the Auckland-Los Angeles route and taps into the Qantas network because Qantas and subsidiary Jetstar operate between New Zealand and Australia.

Travellers will be able to make three-way trips among the US, New Zealand and Australia on a unified itinerary.

Qantas and American Airlines formed a five-year alliance in 2011, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has approved it continuing for another five years.

Gareth Evans, chief executive of Qantas International and Freight, was in Auckland on Saturday with Fernand Fernandez, American Airlines' vice-president of global marketing, to mark the start of the service at a function attended by government minister Judith Collins.

"The bigger, stronger partnership we're building with American Airlines is all about giving our customers more options and better experiences," Mr Evans said.

Auckland-Los Angeles is the seventh new trans-Pacific route American Airlines has added during the past three years, doubling its presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

"This new route is critically important for American's strategic expansion in the Asia Pacific region and a key part of our partnership with Qantas," Mr Fernandez said.

Last year American Airlines introduced a service between Sydney and Los Angeles and Qantas began a service between Sydney and San Francisco.

Mr Evans said Qantas and Jetstar were growing within New Zealand and on trans-Tasman routes.

On Friday night Queenstown Airport welcomed its first international after-dark flight of predominantly Australian skiers and holidaymakers to enjoy the opening night of the Queenstown Winter Festival.

Jetstar flight JQ219 from Melbourne touched down at 7.20pm (NZT).

Queenstown Airport Corp chief executive Colin Keel said it was a big occasion for the airport and heralded "a new era in its history".

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