Air New Zealand will acquire eight new 787-10 Dreamliners as part of its fleet upgrade program. The new aircraft will arrive beginning in 2022, continuing through 2027. The long-expected order will see the new aircraft replace the carrier’s existing 777-200 fleet. The company announced the Letter of Intent for this transaction today in Auckland.
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.
This is a hugely important decision for our airline. With the 787-10 offering almost 15 percent 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.– Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon
The new –10 models are larger than the carrier’s dozen existing –9 frames. While the two types carry roughly 95% commonality in spare parts and can be operated by common crew there is one significant difference in this order: Air New Zealand chose the General Electric GEnx-1B engines to power the new planes. The existing fleet is powered by the Rolls Royce Trent 1000s, a type that has suffered significant reliability issues since launch and which has caused Air New Zealand to ground a number of its planes in recent months awaiting repairs.
Details on the aircraft interiors were not released as part of the announcement. The carrier currently flies with Panasonic Avionics‘ inflight entertainment on its long-haul fleet. The carrier is also contracted for Inmarsat‘s GX Aviation inflight connectivity on board fleet-wide; installations of that system on the existing fleet are ongoing. Presumably that pair are in the lead to equip the additional frames, though things could easily change in the next three years. Similarly, the existing seat types and three cabin layout is presumed, for now, to continue on the new fleet.
The new frames are expected to cut fuel usage by 25% compared to the 777s the new planes will replace. While the range of the –10 is less than the –9 it is greater than the 777-200s it will replace, giving Air New Zealand greater opportunities for connecting passengers and cargo through its home base at Auckland.
In addition to the 8 firm orders Air New Zealand secured rights for a dozen additional planes. The carrier can also adjust between the –10 and smaller –9 models as needed based on future fleet flexibility needs.
The transaction requires approval of 51% of the shareholders at the company’s annual meeting in September. The government owns 52% of the shares and indicated to the Board of Directors that it supports the transaction. In that context the order is a done deal, though it will not officially be a completed contract until later this fall.