In a continuing attempt to quickly increase passenger capacity, Air New Zealand’s CEO has announced that in addition to its new planes on order, it is in the process of finalizing a lease on a Boeing 777-300ER.
This acquisition fits in with Air New Zealand’s herculean efforts over the past several years to grow its fleet and compete on the international stage–adding new planes, refurbishing its business class cabin, and introducing a compelling new economy class product.
Specifically, this newest 777 comes on top of the 13 aircraft–comprising eight new Boeing 787s and five Airbus A320neos–that Air New Zealand is set to recieve within the next five years. Boeing will deliver the 787s between the second half of this year and 2028, while Airbus will deliver one A320neo later this year, two in 2024, and two in 2027.
At a conference this week, Air New Zealand’s CEO, Greg Foran, announced that is finalizing negotiations to secure another Boeing 777-300ER, which will add 3,000 more seats per week to the airline’s international network and bring the total 777-300ER fleet to eight. Air New Zealand recently brought its seventh 777-300ER out of Covid storage in the Mojave Desert.
Foran emphasized that new plane is intended to increase seat capacity amid booming demand for travel to, from, and within New Zealand. The airline’s Tasman and Pacific Island network capacity is nearing pre-Covid levels, and its domestic network has returned to pre-Covid levels. Air New Zealand has added 5,000 seats per week to Christchurch, connecting it more frequently to Hamilton, Napier, and Nelson, and added 6,000 seats on regional flights out of Auckland and to main centers.
The forthcoming addition of a 777-300ER to the fleet will add another 3000 seats a week and is intended to take advantage of increased international demand, which other carriers have recently moved to capture. To name a few:
- Qatar Airways is set to resume non-stop flights between its hub in Doha and Auckland after a three-year hiatus
- Air China has recently restarted its Beijing-Auckland route
- United is preparing to launch new routes from San Francisco to Christchurch and Los Angeles to Auckland later this year
Interestingly, Foran also noted the airline’s new New York route as indicative of untapped demand for premium travel between the US and New Zealand:
“Our New York route is special, and a valuable and promising market for New Zealand. The route has demonstrated strong demand since its launch in September and presents untapped potential for us to attract high-value customers and showcase the best of what our country has to offer.”
In addition to the eight Boeing 787s and five Airbus A320neos on order, Air New Zealand is finalizing negotiations to lease a Boeing 777-300ER, adding 3,000 more seats per week to its international network. I think that this is generally good news for travelers, as increased capacity (and more competition between airlines) will hopefully put downward pressure on both premium and economy fares, making travel to a beautiful part of the world more accessible and affordable for more customers.