Air New Zealand grounds its Boeing 777s until at least September 2021

By David Flynn, September 10 2020
Air New Zealand grounds its Boeing 777s until at least September 2021

Air New Zealand will extend the grounding of its long-range Boeing 777 fleet "until at least September 2021" in the face of continued uncertainty over the return of demand for international travel.

In April 2020 the long-range jets were stood down until April 2021, with the Boeing 777-200s then potentially facing an earlier retirement as new Boeing 787-10s join the fleet – although delivery dates for the Dreamliners has also been pushed back.

However, the Kiwi carrier today confirmed that the recovery of the airline’s international network post-COVID-19 "is now looking to be slower than initially thought."

“The recent resurgence of cases in New Zealand is a reminder that this is a highly volatile situation" says Air New Zealand Chief Operating Officer Carrie Hurihanganui.

"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."

While three of Air New Zealand's Boeing 777-300 aircraft will remain in the hangars at Auckland in case they're needed in the short term, four more will be stored in Victorville in the Californian desert, which has become the parking lot for hundreds of aircraft from around the world – including Qantas' flagship Airbus A380s, which aren't expected to be flying again until 2023.

Read more: How Qantas will hibernate its Airbus A380 for the next three years

The Boeing 777-200s "will be sent to long-term storage facilities in both Roswell, New Mexico and Victorville, California" from later this month, the airline said.

Hitting pause on new business class

The airline's necessary focus on short-term survival has also put the brakes on the airline's launch of all-new business class seats, slated for the Boeing 787-10 as well as a retrofit to some of the Boeing 777 fleet as a replacement for the current decade-old sleepers.

They're been under development since mid-2018 at a secret secure facility dubbed 'Hangar 22' near the airline's Auckland headquarters, where selected AirNZ passengers – including some of its most frequent long-haul flyers – have been invited to sample the new seats.

This includes conducting simulated flights over the course of a weekend, so the product development team can study how passengers move through different transitions of work, rest and sleep.


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.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1000

Roswell....if the 777s go there they may never be seen again ;)

how old are the 772s ? They must be almost worthless in todays market. Could some LCC snap up some 772s very cheaply ?

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1000

They could but they are not particularly cheap to operate and would have a lot of seats to fill when in a LCC config.  For example, Scoot has removed 772s from their fleet.

think all or most of scoots 772s went to nok scoot, now wound up & back in Singapore airlines hands. Think I saw a photo of some of them at Alice Springs recently.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 202

The average age of the B772s is 14 years and the B773s is 8 years. The 3 remaining B773s still in New Zealand are leased.

Air NZ has essentially written off the B772s hence the large loss and there is word that they will not return.

Way things are going Air NZ will be an all B787 operator for all medium to ultra long haul international services.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 248

NZ have 8 B787-10 for delivery from 2022, and currently have 8 777-200 in their fleet. I would guess that NZ will never bring the 777-200 back and just introduce B787-10 into the fleet instead.

14 B787-9 and some 777-300 should be enough for 2021. 

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 202

The B787-10 is to replace the B772s hence being written off and gone into long term storage. Currently Air NZ is  essentially a domestic airline, operating mainly international freight and occasional repatriation flights with the B787s, so there is no requirement to operate the B773s


13 Aug 2016

Total posts 67

Word is along with some of the remaining a321NEO orders being converted to LR’s to fly Medium Haul routes.

with a supposed range of 4,000 nmi (7,400 km) with 206 seats in two classes which NZ routes could they take over ?

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 202

regular flyer - The remaining 7 A321neo's that are on order, will be used on domestic mainline jet routes between AKL,WLG,CHC,DUD and ZQN replacing the older 'newer' domestic A320ceos. Air NZ has been testing the A321neo in and out of ZQN during COVID19 lockdown.

Currently Air NZ has no plans to use A321lr/xlr medium haul international services when it has a surpluses of B789's, 8 B781s on order and 7 B77W stored.

just looked up world-airport-codes

AKL/HNL seems to be right on the limit, while AKL/PER seems easy. 6+ hours in a narrow body ? Maybe not my idea of fun.

Until recently Royal Brunei did BNE/BWN is an A320LR I think it was. Now canned.

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