Air New Zealand is adding Boeing’s newest widebody aircraft to its fleet with the carrier announcing a commitment to purchase eight Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners as it looks to phase out its older fleet of eight B777-200ERs by 2025.
The first Boeing 787-10 aircraft is projected to join Air New Zealand’s fleet in late 2022 and the rest will be progressively delivered to the airline by 2027. Along with the eight announced firm orders, the purchase agreement between also includes an option to raise the total number of aircraft to up to 20, with this potentially comprising a mix of 787-10s and the smaller 787-9.
The 787-10 was chosen as it “complements [Air New Zealand’s] current 787-9 and 777 fleet by offering more seats and greater efficiency to grow its business”, according to a press release from Boeing.
Air New Zealand’s older Boeing 777-200ERs have an average age of 13.8 years, according to the carrier’s website. The aircraft features the airline’s Business Premier product with the 26-seater business class cabin being configured in a 1-2-1 herringbone setting, with all seats having direct access to the aisle. The leather armchairs can be converted into a two-metre long fully lie-flat bed.
The same seat product can also be found on Air New Zealand’s 787-9s, the most recent of which have been configured with greater premium seating than its earlier 787s.
However, it’s possible that the new 787-10s could feature an entirely new business class seat product. Last May, Business Traveller Asia-Pacific reported that Air New Zealand was “discreetly developing a new business class seat product” and these new Dreamliners could provide an ideal launch aircraft for the new seat design.
The 787-10 is the newest and largest model of all aircraft in the 787 Dreamliner series. The 68-metre long airplane can accommodate 330 passengers in a two-class configuration, about 40 more than the 787-9.
The new Boeing 787-10 entered commercial service last year, with launch customer Singapore Airlines choosing to launch its new regional business class seat product on the aircraft. Dutch carrier KLM and Japan’s ANA have also unveiled new business class seats for their own 787-10s.
Air New Zealand’s wide-body fleet comprises seven B777-300ERs, eight B777-200ERs, and 13 B787-9s. A 14th Boeing 787-9 is expected to join the airline’s fleet this year.
Commenting on the commitment, Christopher Luxon, chief executive of Air New Zealand, said: “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 per cent 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.”