United To Discontinue Service To New Zealand
United To Discontinue Service To New Zealand
Code-share flights operated by Star Alliance partner Air New Zealand to continue
AUCKLAND, Jan. 10, 2003 - As part of the carrier's programme to return the company to profitability United Airlines today announced changes to its international schedule which includes discontinuing flying its aircraft between the United States and New Zealand.
While the last United aircraft will depart Auckland for Los Angeles on March 29, 2003, customers already booked for travel on 30 March and beyond will continue to be serviced through United code-share flights operated by Star Alliance partner Air New Zealand. Today's announcement has no impact on frequent flyer miles held by New Zealand-based customers.
United has 96 employees in New Zealand. The company will be working diligently to assist them with their personal needs, career counseling, job placement and realization of benefits due to them.
United remains strongly committed to its customers in the South Pacific and no other schedule changes are planned. In addition to being the only U.S. carrier serving Australia, United will continue to serve the needs of its customers in New Zealand through its Star Alliance partners Air New Zealand, Thai Airways International, and Singapore Airlines. In conjunction with Air New Zealand, United will continue to offer daily service on a code share basis between New Zealand and the U.S.
United frequent flyer miles continue to be valid and members of United's award-winning Mileage Plus programme can continue to accrue and redeem miles on all Star Alliance partners, which out of New Zealand include Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways International. Additionally, today's announcement has no impact on United's strategic relationship with Star Alliance partner Air New Zealand, and the two carriers will continue to work together very closely to link New Zealand, Australia and other points in the Pacific with the Americas and Europe with numerous flight options and convenient connections. "The decision to end service to New Zealand has been particularly difficult and painful for us, but we are pleased we are able to continue offering service to our customers through the Star Alliance," said Graham Atkinson, United's senior vice president - International. "United has served New Zealand continuously for 17 years and we are making this difficult decision only after a very thorough analysis of the financial performance of the route in recent years and after making numerous attempts to improve its profitability."
"The total number of passengers traveling between the two countries (on all airlines) has been trending downwards in recent years, while the number of available seats (on all airlines) has been trending upwards," said Jim Brennan, United's vice president - Pacific South. "The result is that average fares between the U.S. and New Zealand have decreased steadily over the past two years and our operations to New Zealand have become unprofitable."
In 2002, United rerouted its service to Melbourne, Australia via Sydney instead of Auckland, making more seats available between New Zealand and the U.S. Additionally, the company introduced the first ever nonstop service between North America and New Zealand in the advanced and efficient Boeing 777 aircraft. While these changes substantially improved the financial performance of the route it continues to fall short of United's profitability needs.
Customers holding tickets on United flights after 29 March should contact United reservations on 0800-747-400 for assistance with accommodation on United code share flights operated by Air New Zealand. In most cases tickets will not require reissue and any flight segments beyond Los Angeles should not need to be changed. Customers can visit United's New Zealand web site at www.unitedairlines.co.nz for information on today's announcement.
"It has been United's privilege to serve the New Zealand market for 17 years," said Michael Purchon, United's general manager - New Zealand. "We would like to express our sincere thanks to the New Zealand government, the travel agency community, our partners in business, and most importantly our wonderful employees for helping us to serve New Zealand all these years with the highest levels of professionalism and safety. This is a sad day for us."
United also announced today other changes to its international flying include the transition of non-stop services between Miami and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to one-stop service via Sao Paulo, Brazil effective March 12, 2003. At that time, United flights 860 and 861, which operate between Washington Dulles and Sao Paulo will be extended to Rio, offering customers one-stop service to and from Washington, D.C., and points beyond. In addition, Rio customers will be able to connect easily in Sao Paulo to United's nonstop service to Chicago and Miami. United flight #860 will depart Sao Paulo daily at 11:15AM and arrive in Rio de Janeiro at 12:15PM. The return flight, UA # 861, will depart Rio de Janeiro daily at 7:45PM and arrive in Sao Paulo at 9:10PM.
Also, the company will introduce daily non-stop service between San Francisco and Seoul effective June 2, 2003. In addition to meeting growing demand in and out of Korea, this service will link the hubs of United and new Star Alliance partner Asiana Airlines of Korea, creating convenient connections and shortened travel times between many communities in the Americas and throughout Asia.