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An Air New Zealand 777-300ER in Los Angeles (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Air New Zealand Decides To Ground Entire 777 Fleet

Air New Zealand has officially announced it will ground its entire Boeing B777 fleet until as early as September 2021. The airline initially grounded seven of its B777-300ER aircraft, earlier in May until the end of 2020, while its eight B777-200s have been sent to longterm storage overseas to Roswell, N.M. and Victorville, Calif. Four of its B777-300s will be stored in Victorville, in the Californian desert. 

“The recent resurgence of cases in New Zealand is a reminder that this is a highly volatile situation. We are not anticipating a return to any 777 flying until September 2021 at the earliest, which is why we have made the decision to ground the fleet until at least this time next year,” Air New Zealand’s Chief Operating Officer, Carrie Hurihanganui said.

The airline has decided to store a portion of its B777 fleet in North America due to the arid climate and existing convenient storage facilities, while the remaining aircraft will stay in Auckland where they can be used to accommodate the current travel demand. 

Air New Zealand’s Resolution To Losses

The Auckland, New Zealand-based carrier’s decision to ground one of its prime long-haul aircraft comes after the airline reported a $87 million NZD ($58.7 million) loss for 2020, last year the airline made a $387 million NZD profit in 2019. Additionally, the initial decision to ground a portion of the airline’s 777 fleet has the carrier facing a 338 million New Zealand dollar aircraft impairment charge for the future. 

However, despite the airline’s losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its decision to ground its 16 B777s out of its total fleet of 114 aircraft, the airline will still be able to rely upon its 14 Boeing B787 Dreamliners to operate the airline’s transpacific long-haul routes. Meanwhile, the carrier will rely on its 34 Airbus A320s and A321neos for the Pacific Island routes. 

Air New Zealand’s continuation for operating the Dreamliners will allow the airline to counteract its losses with the B777 grounding, whilst still competing with one of its biggest foes from the Oceania region, Qantas Airways. 

The New Type Of Traveler

Prior to the airline’s decision to ground its entire B777 fleet, Air New Zealand observed a rise in business travel, and while an increase in COVID-19 cases has slowed the airline’s international network recovery plan, the airline’s strategic choice to solely rely on the B787 Dreamliners will allow the airline to continue accomodating the prominent new type of travelers, the business or corporate passengers. 

In the meantime, whilst Air New Zealand focuses on solely operating the B787 on its extensive international schedule, it remains to be seen whether or not the airline will be able to adapt to the new changes with the COVID-19 pandemic and its fleet restructure. 

Benjamin Pham
Benjamin Pham
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