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Air NZ expands Dreamliner fleet by 61% with big new order

May 28, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Air New Zealand has ordered eight new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft – the longest variant of the 787 Dreamliner – highly fuel-efficient planes which will join the airline’s fleet from 2022.

Eventually, Air New Zealand could have up to 20 787-10 Dreamliners. It already operates a fleet of 13 787-9 Dreamliners, which chief executive Christopher Luxon says have proved to be the perfect aircraft for the airline’s Pacific Rim focus.

Coincidentally, I flew on one of Air New Zealand’s 787-9 Dreamliners from Sydney to Auckland yesterday – my first-ever Dreamliner flight. I found the quietness and ambience of the cabin fully lived up to the hype; but plenty of people have found that out in the eight years since the Dreamliner first took to the air commercially.

Air New Zealand’s new 787-10 Dreamliner will be powered by GE Aviation’s GEnx-1B engines – the choice of engines being significant in more ways than one.

The GEnx-1B is a very good, fuel-efficient engine – and mounted on Air New Zealand’s 787-10s, they have the potential to save 190,000 tonnes of carbon per year.

Air New Zealand could have equally chosen Rolls-Royce engines to power its new fleet of 787-10s – but the New Zealand carrier has suffered more than its share of operational disruptions over problems concerning the durability of Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.

Air New Zealand Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner

Last year, European aviation regulator EASA ordered operators of a type of Trent 1000 engine to carry out earlier-than-usual maintenance checks on part of the engine compressor. This led to two Air New Zealand 787-9 Dreamliners being temporarily removed from service while engines underwent maintenance work at a Rolls-Royce facility in Singapore. Around 340 engines globally were subject to the checks, placing a very high demand on Rolls-Royce’s maintenance facility – which in turn meant it took months for Air New Zealand’s engine repair to be completed.

That’s now in the past, but it’s noteworthy that Air New Zealand has gone with the GEnx-1B.

At today’s list prices, Air New Zealand’s agreement represents a value of USD 2.7 billion. Air New Zealand negotiated a significant discount on current list prices and the parties have agreed not to disclose the actual purchase price.

Luxon says the 787-10 is longer and even more fuel efficient than the 787-9.

Dreamliner selfie on Air New Zealand 787-9 yesterday

“However, the game changer for us has been that by working closely with Boeing, we’ve ensured the 787-10 will meet our network needs, including the ability to fly missions similar to our current 777-200 fleet.

“This is a hugely important decision for our airline. With the 787-10 offering almost 15% more space for customers and cargo than the 787-9, this investment creates the platform for our future strategic direction and opens up new opportunities to grow.”

Luxon explains the order in the clip below:

As well as the eight firm orders announced yesterday, the agreement includes options to increase the number of aircraft from eight to up to 20. The airline has also negotiated substitution rights that allow a switch from the larger 787-10 aircraft to smaller 787-9s, or a combination of the two models for future fleet and network flexibility. The delivery schedule can also be delayed or accelerated according to market demand.

These new long-haul aircraft will replace Air New Zealand’s fleet of eight 777-200 aircraft, which will be phased out by 2025. Combined with GE’s GEnx-1B engines, they are expected to be 25% more fuel efficient than the aircraft they’re replacing.

Air New Zealand’s widebody fleet currently consists of 13 Boeing 787-9s, eight Boeing 777-200s and seven Boeing 777-300 aircraft. A 14th Boeing 787-9 will enter the fleet later this year.

The first new aircraft is expected to join the Air New Zealand fleet in late 2022 with the remainder delivered at intervals through to 2027.

Written by Peter Needham

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