Auckland Airport Sees North American Travel Boom

An American Airlines flight taxis at Auckland Airport
Photo Credit: Auckland Airport

A summer surge of North American touch downs has fuelled record breaking US traveller numbers at Auckland Airport.

500,000 travellers between mainland North America and Auckland were recorded from November 2023 to February 2024.

Robust competition between airlines saw a 58% increase in available seats to mainland North America over the summer 23/24 season.

The North American Boom

This summer has seen a significant rise in flights from North America to Auckland Airport. This increase has yielded record-breaking numbers of American travelers visiting New Zealand.

Early indications show that over 500,000 travelers flew between Auckland and mainland North America during the peak season (October – March).

This surge is attributed to a 58% increase in available seats compared to last summer.

Scott Tasker, Chief Customer Officer at Auckland Airport, credits the growth to a combination of exciting new routes and additional carriers.

This expanded network has opened up the North American market, leading to increased competition among airlines and ultimately, lower fares.

“The response from travelers has been incredible,” Mr. Tasker said. “We’ve seen a 20% increase in New Zealanders flying to North America, alongside a substantial 56% rise in American visitors and a 14% jump in Canadians. This puts us well above pre-pandemic levels.”

Six Airlines with Robust Competition

During the summer months, six airlines offered non-stop flights to seven different North American cities from Auckland.

As the aviation industry transitions to the Northern Hemisphere’s summer schedule (March-October), four airlines will continue offering non-stop connections to six North American destinations.

“The increased capacity and competition have been a boon for travelers, with some excellent fares available,” Mr. Tasker remarked.

“This is the highest number of seats ever offered between Auckland Airport and North America, and travelers are definitely taking advantage of it.”

Los Angeles Route Sees Major Boost

The Los Angeles route has been a particular success story, solidifying North America’s position as Auckland’s third-largest inbound tourism market.

Last summer, only Air New Zealand serviced this route with one daily flight. This summer, however, witnessed a significant increase with Air New Zealand, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines offering up to four combined flights per day.

“California has always been a strong source of inbound tourism,” Mr. Tasker explained. “Interestingly, over 20% of the 40 million Americans who dream of visiting New Zealand hail from California.”

“This trend is reflected in the 180% surge of US travelers on the Los Angeles route this summer.”

Air New Zealand aircraft at Auckland Airport.

Network Power of Major Airlines Boosts Connectivity

The presence of three major US airlines (American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines) alongside Air Canada significantly enhances connectivity to Auckland.

These airlines boast a combined loyalty program membership exceeding 300 million, providing extensive brand exposure and consumer reach.

Additionally, their vast domestic networks make reaching a long-haul destination like New Zealand much more accessible.

Positive Impact on Tourism Industry

The rise in US tourists has a significant positive impact on New Zealand’s vital tourism sector. American visitors are drawn to the country’s diverse offerings, from experiencing Maori culture and breathtaking natural landscapes to indulging in wine tastings and relaxing on pristine beaches.

Notably, many American tourists explore multiple regions within a single trip. “Tourism and hospitality are crucial pillars of our nation’s economic well-being,” Mr. Tasker emphasized.

“Maintaining frequent and year-round air connections with our key inbound tourism markets is essential for continued success.”

NZ Domestic Connectivity

Auckland Airport’s investment in a new domestic terminal further strengthens their commitment to providing a seamless travel experience for international visitors, particularly those from the United States, Canada, and beyond.

Upon opening, the integrated terminal will offer a 26% increase in aircraft capacity, facilitating the addition of more seats to domestic jet destinations and a 44% expansion in passenger processing space.

“While some travelers choose to stay in Auckland or utilize ground transportation options like rental cars, campervans, or bus tours, for approximately 21% of inbound visitors, Auckland serves as a connection point to other destinations throughout the country,” Mr. Tasker concluded.

“We’re committed to ensuring this connection is as fast and efficient as possible, allowing visitors to maximize their holiday time.”

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
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