Air New Zealand is scrapping services to London and Buenos Aires, predicting that demand will not recover quickly enough to make the routes viable.

It is also postponing the start of its non-stop Auckland-New York service from 29 October 2020 until late 2021 at the earliest, the carrier said today.

Air New Zealand used to fly to Buenos Aires five times a week from Auckland and had a daily service from Los Angeles to London.

Both the London and the Buenos Aires routes are currently suspended until 30 June due to low demand and travel restrictions. The airline had planned to discontinue the Los Angeles-London route in October 2020.

Air New Zealand chief networks, strategy and alliances officer Nick Judd said in a statement: “Government travel restrictions will continue for some time and demand for our Los Angeles-London service is unlikely to recover before our planned exit in October. Argentina has been challenging before the pandemic and we don’t expect this market to recover quickly.”

Judd says demand for international flights into June is around 5% of pre Covid-19 levels, and the decision to revise its plans is “deeply disappointing”.

“However, the effects of Covid-19 continue to bite; we expect most countries to take a cautious approach to international travel in the next year and we have to be pragmatic,” he adds.

Air New Zealand is currently operating just 5% of its regular schedule until 30 June.

New Zealand loosens some lockdown restrictions on 28 April. However, major domestic travel is still not permitted and the nation’s carrier has therefore made only slight adjustments to the domestic network it has in place for essential travel.

The airline is adding several services a week between Auckland and Napier, as well as Auckland and Tauranga in the country’s North Island, plus additional capacity between Christchurch and Dunedin in the South Island.