MIAMI – Flag carrier Air New Zealand (NZ) has begun its latest undertaking on phasing out its fleet of Boeing 777-300 aircraft to move towards a sole 787 long-haul fleet for its post-pandemic operations.

The airline also announced its 2021 financial results which were an after-tax loss of US$289m for the first half of this year while 2020 saw it post a US$454m loss, which also happened to be the first annual loss for the airline in 18 years.

Air New Zealand ZK-OKH Boeing 777-219(ER). Photo: Misael Ocasio Hernandez/Airways

Goodbye to the Kiwi 777s

The airline’s widebody fleet has operated both variants of the Boeing 777 up and till the pandemic when it immediately retired its entire Boeing 777-200 unit, all of which were leased. While part of them remain for sale, the others will be scrapped.

Today’s financial result was also accompanied by the shocking news that all seven of its Boeing 777-300ER would also be retired.

The first Boeing 777-300ER bearing registration ZK-OKM joined the fleet towards the end of 2010. The type’s average age is just about nine years, an aircraft with so much more potential is already seeing its end.

The triple sevens were brought in to replace the former Boeing 747-400 fleet mostly on trans-pacific routes such as Auckland- Los Angeles and onto London. The type wore two liveries, one of which has a white front and a black end and the other is the more prominent “all backs.”

Future Long-haul Fleet

The retirement won’t be a quick one. Currently, all the Boeing 777-300s are in storage and will eventually exit the fleet by 2027. The NZ long-haul fleet will be made up of only the Boeing 787-9 and 787-10.

At present, it operates 14 Boeing 787-9 aircraft and expects the first Boeing 787-10 to join in 2024.

The ultimate goal of the airline is to have just two types of aircraft by 2028, The A320 family and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner – an extremely neat and cut fleet for best efficiency.

Featured image: Air New Zealand ZK-OKQ Boeing 777-319(ER). Photo: Luca Flores/Airways