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Airline Competition Fires Up North American Travel Boom At Auckland Airport

  • 58% increase in available seats to mainland North America over summer 23/24
  • 500,000 travellers between mainland North America and Auckland from November 2023 to February 2024
  • Around 50% are travellers from the USA – up 56% on summer 22/23
  • Most US visitors travel here in summer and autumn, stay up to two weeks and spend close to $6,000 per person on average (year to June 2023)[1]
  • 20% more Kiwis flying on North American routes
  • Competition brings 12% reduction in fares on North American routes

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

As the aviation system prepares for the seasonal shift in schedules at the end of the month, early indications are the increased seat capacity delivered this summer has seen well over 500,000 travellers take to the skies between Auckland and mainland North America.

Scott Tasker, Chief Customer Officer at Auckland Airport, said the mix of exciting new routes and additional carriers have cracked open the North American market, creating airfare competition and driving the demand.

“Off the back of a 58% growth in available seats compared to last summer, we’ve seen an incredible response from travellers. There’s been 20% more New Zealanders and a whopping 56% increase in Americans and 14% increase in Canadians flying the North American routes over summer. The market is now bigger than it was in 2019,” said Mr Tasker.

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Between October and March, six airlines have been flying non-stop to seven mainland North American cities from Auckland[i]. Between March to October, the Northern Summer aviation season, four airlines will continue flying non-stop between Auckland Airport and six North American cities.

“The capacity and competition have really benefited travellers with some great fares, which overall are down 12% on last year. There’s never been more seats available between Auckland Airport and North America and what we’re seeing is travellers are really taking advantage of this,” he said.

“North America is our third biggest inbound tourism market and within that the Los Angeles route has been a real bright spot. We’ve gone from one airline – Air New Zealand – flying once a day last summer, to having Air New Zealand, American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines, together flying up to four times a day.

“California has traditionally been a strong market for inbound tourism and when we look at the 40 million-odd Americans who had New Zealand at the top of their travel bucket list, more than 20% call California home. We've seen that flow through into traveller numbers with a 180% increase in US nationals on the Los Angeles route this summer.

“We also can’t underestimate the power of having those three major US airlines plus Air Canada connecting with Auckland. Collectively they have around 300 million people in their loyalty programmes, providing great brand and consumer reach, and domestic network coverage that makes a long-haul destination like New Zealand that little bit easier to get to,” said Mr Tasker.

“There is an amazing flow on impact for our vital tourism sector. Visitors from the US are coming here to experience the best regional New Zealand has to offer – whether that’s Māori culture and history, the great outdoors, cellar door sampling or simply a day at the beach – and they’re more likely than not to visit several regions on the same trip.

“Tourism and hospitality are a big part of our country’s economic success, and maintaining frequent, year-round airline capacity to and from our key inbound tourism markets underpins that success.”

Auckland Airport’s investment in a new domestic terminal will further enhance our desire to deliver a quality New Zealand travel experience to highly valued international visitors from the United States, Canada and elsewhere, with a quick, easy connection through to domestic jet services once the integrated terminal opens. Bringing a 26% increase in aircraft capacity, the new terminal creates opportunities to add more airline seats to jet-enabled domestic destinations along with 44% more space for passenger processing.

“While many travellers will stay in Auckland or connect to a ground transport option here, whether that’s a rental car, camper or bus tour, for around 21% of inbound travellers it’s the connection point to destinations across the country. We’re making sure that link is as fast and seamless as possible so they can get on with enjoying their holiday.”

[1] Tourism New Zealand,

[1] New Zealand summer (Northern Winter) AA, AC, DL, NZ, QF and UA flying to YVR, SFO, LAX, IAH, DFW, ORD, JFK.

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