Air New Zealand will stick with Boeing to replace its 777-200 fleet. In choosing the 787-10, Air New Zealand hinted it can offer nonstop service between Auckland and New York for the first time. But how?
Air New Zealand will order eight 787-10 aircraft with an option for up to 12 more. Deliveries will commence in 2022 and be completed by 2027. The deal comes with a list price of $2.7 billion, though airlines always receive a significant discount.
Speaking of the new order, Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon stated told the Sydney Morning Herald:
The 787-10 is longer and even more fuel efficient. 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.
Nonstop To New York
But beyond the missions of the current 777-200 fleet, Air New Zealand wanted an aircraft that could fly nonstop to New York. The list-range of the 787-10 cannot make the trip to New York. In fact, it offers the shortest range of the entire 787 family. But Air New Zealand hinted nonstop service to New York will be possible by re-configuring the aircraft to offer more premium seats, serving a dual strategy. First, it will allow for more fuel storage. Second, it would advance the goal of the New Zealand government to attract wealthier tourists. Luxon added:
We are all quite united in this drive for value over volume…
We don’t want the joint turning into Cancun or Bali – we need it to turn into Switzerland.
That’s an interesting analogy…
Airbus and Boeing had battled hard for this order. Asked where the ongoing 737 MAX issues nearly cost Boeing the deal, Luxon said:
Boeing is a company that we’ve known for over 50 years. We’re very comfortable.
It is still unclear how the 787-10 would be specifically retooled to make AKL-NYC possible.
Air New Zealand will pivot away from Rolls Royce engines and use General Electric engines for the new order. Its Rolls Royce engines have encountered unexpected maintenance issues leading to extended delays and cancellations. That has forced Air New Zealand to lease planes from others, like the old Singapore 777-200 I saw at LAX that Air New Zealand is using on certain routes.
> Read More: The Mysterious 777 At LAX
This order is a symbolic win for Boeing as it seeks to emerge from the 737 MAX disaster. Air New Zealand’s conservative order won’t necessarily lead to new routes, but Luxon’s specific mention of New York City makes that a likely new destination, even as we await details about how this is possible with a 787-10.
Air New Zealand’s plan to retrofit its entire longhaul fleet with more premium cabin seats represents bigger news than the new aircraft order. I’ll cover that in more depth in a future story. Air New Zealand New York 787
image: Air New Zealand