Air New Zealand is considering delaying the delivery of its Boeing 787-10s in light of recent events. The 787-10 is meant to replace the fleet of aging 777-200ERs and allow Air New Zealand to fly new routes. However, the current situation has forced Air New Zealand to make a number of changes to its plans.
Significant fleet changes
Air New Zealand has recently taken several decisions to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The airline has laid off its entire crew for the 777 and grounded the model until April 2021. This stems from an increasingly popular view among airlines that international travel is unlikely to reach its previous levels for at least a year after the pandemic ends.
Air New Zealand ordered the eight 787-10s last year following an intense bidding war between Airbus and Boeing. Deliveries for the largest Dreamliner variant were to begin from 2022 with all eight delivered by 2027. It was planned for the new plane to replace the airline’s eight aging 777-200ERs.
Currently, Air New Zealand has a widebody fleet consisting of the 777-300ER, 777-200ERs, and 787-9, with the latter being the most common. As more and more countries institute strict border controls, which are unlikely to be lifted soon, Air New Zealand wants to ensure it can deploy capacity where there there is demand and keep costs low.
Deliveries could be delayed further
The first of the 787-10s were meant to be delivered in late 2022, but that seems to be slightly delayed, according to Executive Traveller. Air New Zealand has made it clear that all fleet decisions will be led completely by demand for international travel. This means the airline could opt to take delivery of the plane if demand returns or further delay the order, whichever is makes the most business sense.
Air New Zealand is also looking to accelerate plans for phasing out the less-efficient 777-200ERs. Airlines around the world have been removing their older planes ahead of schedule in a bid to cut costs.
Air New Zealand’s decisions will have a significant impact on the airline’s long term ambitions. The airline plans to begin a direct Auckland to New York service later this year with a modified 787-9, but these plans could be delayed if demand remains low at that time. The 787-10 delay will also mean we will have to wait longer to see Air New Zealand’s new business class.
Airlines around the world are focusing on merely surviving this crisis and hoping that demand will rebound. While Air New Zealand’s actions seem drastic, they simply represent long-term planning for a future where demand for travel remains subdued.
What do you think about Air New Zealand’s plans? Should they delay delivery or stick to the schedule? Let us know in the comments below.