- - Thursday, November 12, 2015

American Airlines is teaming up with Qantas Airways in a bid to become lion of the Pacific when it comes to flights from the U.S. to the lands Down Under.

In an announcement Tuesday at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), American Airlines Group President Scott Kirby announced new service from Los Angeles to Auckland to start in the summer on a pact with Qantas that will make a convenient triangle of service between Los Angeles, Auckland and Sydney.

The announcement comes just as new nonstop service on American begins linking Los Angeles and Sydney on Dec. 17. Both services are to run daily. The LAX-AUK service will be managed on a Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner, while the LAX-SYD route is accommodated on a Boeing 777-300ER. Both aircraft feature lie-flat seats as well as a walk-up bar, Wi-Fi and plenty of power outlets in the premium classes.

“We are expanding our operations with Qantas,” said Mr. Kirby. “We were the first to code share and see this as a very beneficial revenue blend for both airlines. We believe there is plenty of demand from the U.S. Australia is one of the most popular destinations in the world. By working together we expect to grow our share of the market.”

Mr. Kirby noted the strength of keeping the complete flow of traffic between the three destinations inside the partnership that will allow the airline to compete forcefully with other U.S. carriers, such as Delta and United, in servicing traffic to Australia.

The route becomes American’s sixth in the trans-Pacific market as the carrier’s growth in that region has nearly doubled in the past three years. For U.S. carriers the trans-Pacific route has been dominated by United and Delta in outbound flights from the United States.

“It’s all about the customer,” added Vanessa Hudson, senior executive vice president for the Americas at Qantas Airways. “Tourism from the U.S. to New Zealand is growing at about 10 percent a year and this alliance makes New Zealand much more accessible to Americans. Together we are providing more than 150 flights a week on this route and we know that Americans who go to New Zealand overwhelming visit Australia as well.”

American opened Flagship check-in at LAX that gives first-class passengers a separate room and entrance for check-in, expedited and accompanied security line privileges, assistance to Admirals Club or departure gates and coordination with car services and interline connections. Those services are available to ConciergeKey members, Five Star Service customers, passengers flying First Class on American three-class transcontinental flights and those raveling First Class on an international American or select oneworld® alliance carrier on any point in an outbound itinerary.

Other first-class privileges on American flights include First Class Pets. Passengers in first class who want to bring their pets aboard can do so on A321T flights, which have a compartment to accommodate pets in their carry-on kennels. Passengers heading to New York out of Los Angeles or San Francisco can treat their pets to a comfortable and roomy flight in the first-class cabin for the $125 carry-on fee.

Lark Gould reports on travel and the travel industry from Los Angeles, covering travel trends and destinations on Travel-Intel.com and eTravel.news.

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