A week ago I wrote about how it was expected that Air New Zealand would soon place an order for wide body Boeing jets.
The airline had been trying to decide between Airbus and Boeing for their fleet renewal, and we learned that their choice was Boeing. What we didn’t know is if they’d go with some model of the 777, or some model of the 787. Now we know.
Air New Zealand orders Boeing 787-10
Air New Zealand has today announced that they’ve placed an order for eight Boeing 787-10 aircraft, expected to be delivered between 2022 and 2027 (so they’ll very gradually be joining Air New Zealand’s fleet).
It seems like Air New Zealand has a lot of flexibility built into this deal:
- The agreement includes the option for up to 20 planes, so they can increase their order by up to an additional 12 planes
- The airline has substitution rights for the 787-9, so they could end up taking delivery of a combination of the two planes
- The delivery schedule can be delayed or accelerated based on market demand
The list price for this deal is 2.7 billion USD, though as usual you can expect that they paid significantly less than that (I’ve always found it weird that airplane pricing is sort of similar to street market pricing).
What this means for Air NZ’s fleet going forward
As it stands, Air New Zealand’s long haul fleet consists of:
- 9 Boeing 777-200ERs
- 8 Boeing 777-300ERs
- 13 Boeing 787-9s (with one more plane on order)
The plan is for these 787-10s to eventually replace their 777-200s, which will be phased out by 2025. Combined with the General Electric engines Air New Zealand has ordered, the plan is for these planes to be about 25% more fuel efficient than the planes they’re replacing.
As of 2025 the airline would have a long haul fleet consisting of 787-9s, 787-10s, and 777-300ERs.
Why the 787-10?
A lot of people expected that Air New Zealand might order the latest generation 777, which is the 777-8 and 777-9. I wasn’t expecting them to, and I’m not surprised they didn’t.
Why? It’s a high capacity plane (the 777-9 is bigger than any current model of the 777), and Air New Zealand is quite conservative with their growth. Their focus is on planes that are fuel efficient and aren’t too big.
What makes the choice of the 787-10 interesting is that it’s the shortest range version of the 787. When it comes to the three variants of the 787, the 787-9 is the longest range, followed by the 787-8, followed by the 787-10.
Here’s a comparison of some of the specs of the three variants:
6,430 nautical miles is about 7,400 miles. This is sufficient range for them to operate flights from Auckland to Australia, Asia, and select destinations in North America. For example, they could fly the 787-10 to Los Angeles and San Francisco, but not to Chicago and Houston, and Vancouver would probably be a stretch too with strong winds.
What’s interesting is this quote from Air New Zealand’s CEO:
“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.”
Nowadays aircraft manufacturers are constantly making improvements to planes even long after they design them (the range of the A220 was just recently increased), so it sounds like we can expect improved range on the 787-10 that would mean the 787-10 can more easily operate some of their flights to North America.
The 787-10 sounds like a good fit for Air New Zealand’s fleet. In particular, it sounds like it gives them the flexibility they need, in terms of being able to keep 12 options open, being able to convert the planes to 787-9, and also being able to accelerate or defer deliveries of these planes.
What’s most interesting here is that it sounds like Boeing is working on improved range for the 787-10, based on the fact that Air New Zealand says the plane should be able to operate similar flights to their 777-200.
What do you make of Air New Zealand’s decision to order the 787-10?