Air New Zealand has said it is investigating after two of its planes crashed in a hangar at Auckland International Airport. A Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is thought to have hit a parked Boeing 777-300ER. The incident took place on the morning of July 11th with both aircraft sustaining damage.
Reportedly, a parked 777-300ER received damage to its tail after the wing of a 787-9 Dreamliner collided with it. The Dreamliner was being moved as Air New Zealand is reintroducing its 787-9s on some domestic flights. However, its 777-300s remain grounded due to COVID-19. It is not clear if the airline is using another plane while the damage is being repaired or if the aircraft wasn’t needed for an immediate return to service.
Local news publication Stuff confirmed that no external investigation has taken place by New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority. So far, the airline has not commented on the incident. According to a spokeswoman for Air New Zealand, they are “carrying out an internal investigation into an incident that took place at our hangar at Auckland Airport.”
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Air New Zealand’s fleet
It’s not yet clear if the aircrafts involved in the incident are owned by Air New Zealand or on lease. The carrier has seven Boeing777-300ERs, but three of these are on lease. Air New Zealand currently has 14 Boeing 787-9s.
Most of Air New Zealand’s fleet has been grounded and stored for several months. Although the recent virus outbreak led to many planes being grounded due to a lack of demand, Air New Zealand had grounded planes last year.
The airline was forced to cancel over 14,000 flights at the end of last year due to issues with Rolls Royce engines on its Boeing Dreamliners. The planes required maintenance, and ongoing problems with the Trent engines have kept the aircraft grounded.
The 777s that will never fly again
With the virus outbreak earlier this year, Air New Zealand confirmed it would be grounding all its 777-200s and 777-300 until the end of the year. The airline has eight 777-200ERs with an average age of 14 years. Four of these are on lease. All eight are being transferred to long-term storage and may never fly again
Earlier this year, the airline implied that it does not expect to recover from the impact of the virus for at least two years. With international travel demand low, and expected to remain low, the airline may scrap the aircraft and operate a smaller fleet in the future.
Currently, the airline is operating its flagship 787 Dreamliners on domestic flights. The carrier has seen a surge in short-haul domestic operations as New Zealand’s borders are still tightly restricted. The demand for flights has been so high that the airline is adding its 787-9 to the A320s and A321s it usually operates on domestic routes.
The airline may be right in suggesting that international and long-haul travel will take a while to recover. However, if domestic demand continues to thrive, we may see more planes removed from storage to offer more capacity. Hopefully, any planes leaving hangars will do so without incident.