One of Air Tahiti Nui’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners is destined for storage at Goodyear, Arizona. Eagle-eyed planespotters noted the first Dreamliner landed in Arizona on Tuesday.
The first Air Tahiti Nui Dreamliner landed in Goodyear on Tuesday
According to RadarBox.com, F-OMUA Fakarava, a Boeing 787-9 just over two years old, departed Papeete for Los Angeles on February 13. The Dreamliner then cooled its engines at Los Angeles for ten days before departing to Goodyear on Tuesday. That short 50-minute flight departed Los Angeles at 10:59 yesterday morning and arrived at Goodyear at 12:49 (local time).
Before the February 13 flight, F-OMUA’s last tracked flight was on January 26. The aircraft operated TN111 between Los Angeles and Papeete that day.
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Air Tahiti offered Simple Flying the following statement regarding its future plans:
Air Tahiti Nui continues to work with its industry in French Polynesia, including the Tahitian Government and major International market partners in preparing for the re-opening of the destination in the next several months. In order to minimize the possibility of various strains of COVID-19, and to further reduce the small numbers of active cases in the Islands, travel for the purpose of tourism has been suspended, as is the case for France itself and all of its overseas territories.
According to Mathieu Bechonnet, President and Managing Director of Air Tahiti Nui, the various Government travel restrictions in place, including the closure of New Zealand and Australia, restrictions for entry to Japan, and the French travel ban on tourism has required that the airline reduce its flying time and flight schedules. Thus, flights to New Zealand, codeshare to Australia and flights to Japan have not been operating for the past 12 months. US and Paris flights have been operating on a reduced frequency from July 15, 2020 – February 14, 2021.
Given this reduction in activity and the uncertainty regarding opening dates, especially for New Zealand, and Australia, the airline has made the decision to store one of its Boeing 787-9 aircraft in Phoenix, Arizona. While the plane could have remained in Papeete and been cycled though the schedule for some flying, due to a variety of reasons including engineering, climate conditions, and reduced flying hours, it is preferable to store the aircraft in a dry environment. This was done on February 23, 2021 on a LAX ferry flight.
Mr. Bechonnet went on to add that the airline has absolutely no plans to place any other aircraft in such storage. The airline noted an upturn in business and bookings from the North American market and increased consumer confidence with the rollout of vaccines in the United States. Additionally, the Airline enjoyed strong travel in December on the Paris route.
As such the airline is planning to operate daily flights to Los Angeles with onward connections to Paris from April or May. The re-opening of its Narita service is planned next, especially with the Tokyo summer Olympics. Operating this schedule will require three aircraft, which the Airline and its stakeholders are fully committed to.