Air New Zealand is pushing back on the delivery of its new Boeing 787-10 jets as COVID-19's ongoing impact on border closures and international flying continues to hammer the airline's bottom line and shift its focus to domestic and short-range travel.
The Kiwi carrier expects to suffer at least three straight years of losses, posting a pre-tax loss of as much as NZ$450 million for the year ended June 30 and foreseeing a "comparable" result in the 2022 financial year, it said in a trading update this morning.
"The airline is not expecting any meaningful recovery in long-haul demand in the 2022 financial year, notwithstanding the roll out of global vaccination programs and the potential for long-haul borders to begin reopening progressively in the second half of the financial year," the airline said.
Air New Zealand, which traditionally generates two thirds of its revenue from international travel, has now renegotiated the delivery date for the first of eight new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners ordered in 2019 for arrival in 2023, pushing "out to the 2024 financial year."
Additional Dreamliner delays could follow, with the airline saying it "also retains the ability to utilise a number of further contractual delivery deferral rights on other aircraft due to be delivered from 2024 onward."
"The airline has its eyes firmly set on the future as we move out of the survive phase and into revival mode," said CEO Greg Foran, adding this would mean "further strengthening our core Domestic business."
The modern fuel-efficient Boeing 787-10s were intended to replace Air New Zealand's long-legged Boeing 777-200 jets, with Boeing working to extend the Dreamliner's range.
"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," observed then-CEO Christopher Luxon.
On top of the agreement to buy eight Boeing 787-10s, which were to be delivered across 2023-2027, Air New Zealand held options to buy a further 12.
The 787-10s were set to feature Air New Zealand's all-new Business Premier business class seat – the rollout of which has also been pushed back – with an upmarket 'business plus' section in the front row offering additional legroom, space and privacy plus what the airline described as "a shared dining experience".
Possible branding names considered for these four seats include Business Premier Deluxe, Business Premier Plus and Business Premier Retreat.