Qantas (QF, Sydney Kingsford Smith) is returning to the US East Coast from June 16, 2023, with 3x weekly B787-9 flights operating from Sydney to New York JFK via Auckland International. The carrier formerly flew to New York via Los Angeles International but ended those services in March 2020 when it paused all international flying due to Covid-19.

The flights are widely viewed as a warm-up act to nonstop Project Sunrise flights between Sydney and New York due to start in 2025 and also to act as a competitor to Air New Zealand (NZ, Auckland International), who are commencing their own nonstop Auckland - New York B787-9 flights in September. However, Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce says these new flights should remain in place after the Project Sunrise flights begin. He sees the nonstop and the via Auckland routes as complementary rather than competing with each other.

"A huge amount of the American traffic actually likes to do dual destinations for leisure travel so that allows us to tap into that, to have a stop in Auckland and then come onto Australia, which we think will be really big. We can also pick up passengers that are going out from Auckland or going to Auckland, so we think this route will be very popular with Australians given the opportunity to connect via Auckland, and it also gives New Zealanders more choice,” said Joyce.

"When we do Sydney-New York, we take it that there probably will be a market for Auckland-New York, as there are a lot of routes we take to be complementary to each other, and potentially serve a slightly different market."

At 7,670 nautical miles (14,200 kilometres), the Auckland - New York route will be one of the longest in the Qantas network, only bettered by the Perth International - London Heathrow route.

The flight is also one of the longest out of Auckland Airport, clocking in at over 16 hours on the eastbound run to New York and 17 and a half hours on the return service to Auckland. Other notable long-haul flights from Auckland include LATAM Airlines' Santiago de Chile - Auckland route, and Air New Zealand services to Los Angles, San Francisco, Houston Intercontinental, Chicago O'Hare, and Vancouver International. At around the same distance as the new Auckland - New York flights are the nonstop Emirates (EK, Dubai International) A380-800 Auckland - Dubai service which is resuming in early December.

"We welcome competition and look forward to waving to Qantas in the sky in nine months’ time,” said Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran in response to the Qantas news.