Air New Zealand considers Boeing 777X vs Airbus A350

By David Flynn, July 10 2014
Air New Zealand considers Boeing 777X vs Airbus A350

Air New Zealand will run the ruler over both the Boeing 777X and Airbus A350 as replacements for its current long-range Boeing 777 fleet, the airline revealed today.

Also in the mix is a second batch of 787-9s with more premium seating for the North American market.

"In the next decade we’ll have to look at the replacement of our Boeing 777-200ERs as well as the Boeing 777-300ER" Air New Zealand chief financial officer Rob McDonald told journalists in Seattle today, ahead of the delivery flight of the Kiwi carrier's first Boeing 787-9.

Read: Air New Zealand set to bring Boeing 787-9 home to Auckland

McDonald said "this will be a big contest" between the Boeing 777X and the Airbus A350, although adding "that's many years away."

Closer on the calendar is a second order for the Boeing 787-9, with Air New Zealand holding options to buy eight more of the Dreamliners on top of the current 10.

"Some of those options come up in the next little while, so we'll turn our minds to that as to where we think the network will go" McDonald said.

Getting sharper at the pointy end

While the first ten Boeing 787-9s will replace Air New Zealand's older fuel-thirsty Boeing 767s, they also allow for new destinations throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

But in order to take on US or Canadian routes the airline will consider a revamped configuration with more business class and premium economy seats.

"Technically the 787-9 can do trans-Pacific" with a fully load of passengers, McDonald said, "but probably not on the way back."

"The issue is that we put quite a few seats onto the 787-9 because this configuration is very much pitched to a tourism market like the Asian market – we think this is a very good configuration for cities like Shanghai and Tokyo – so we will turn our minds to whether another configuration is required (for North America)."

That layout would ramp up the premium seating at the pointy end of the plane.

"The issue is has it got enough business class, has it got enough premium economy" McDonald explains, "and as you take that seta count down you'll lift the range up."

McDonald said that a second wave of 787-9s could support a further push into the Asia-Pacific market or take over North American routes from the Boeing 777-200.

"Both are possible. As the 777-200 fleet gets older and we look at its replacement, this becomes an obvious candidate but to do that we’d probably need to give it a bit more range and the way to  do that is shrink (the capacity)."

However, McDonald all but ruled out the Boeing 787-10, which may be larger than the -9 but lacks its sibling's extended range, as "the 787-10 won't do trans-Pacific."

Also read: Emirates locks down order for 150 Boeing 777X jets

Australian Business Traveller is attending the Boeing 787-9 launch in Seattle as a guest of Air New Zealand and Boeing.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

02 Jan 2013

Total posts 142

Is it fair to say ANZ have a "nak" for making the right moves?! ? Their decision making is flawless.

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19 Mar 2014

Total posts 26

Very true. I wonder which way they will go. Being burnt by the very late dreamliner they might decide to go with the A350 instead of waiting for the new 777x

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2207

Well, ever since they were rescued from near-collapse they have shown good form. I do agree that there are more likely to go for the A350, as they probably don't need as big an aircraft, and unlike the 777X, the A350 is already flying.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1196

[quote]"Technically the 787-9 can do trans-Pacific" with a fully load of passengers, McDonald said, "but probably not on the way back."[/quote]

What???  a 787-9 can't do LAX-AKL but UA are doing LAX-MEL with the same aircraft!!!

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 13

United use the 777 on the route at the moment.The 787-9 cannot do the return leg with a full load because of headwinds.

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