MIAMI – On Thursday Afternoon, the first of eight Air New Zealand (NZ) Boeing 777 came to rest in storage at Victorville Airport (VCV). The airline made the announcement to ground its entire Boeing 777 fleet for a year earlier this month.
The airline is struggling financially as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Despite low COVID-19 case numbers domestically, the Star Alliance member reported a US$454m annual loss in August of this year. The carrier makes a large majority of its revenue from international and long-haul travel.
The Boeing 777-200ER, registered ZK-OKH, was grounded for close to six months before the decision was made to store the aircraft. The 13-year-old 777 made the trip from Auckland (AKL) to Los Angeles (LAX) before the short flight to VCV.
Victorville Airport, famous for its use as a boneyard storage facility, is located in the Mojave Desert region of Southern California. The arid climate allows for the preservation of aircraft, as opposed to somewhere with high humidity.
It is expected that the remaining seven aircraft will be following suit to ZK-OKH in the next couple of weeks.
The future of long haul aircraft, specifically the Boeing 777 family, is largely in doubt as a result of the global pandemic. Delta Air Lines (DL) recently announced the swift retirement of it’s 777 fleet, expected to be finalized at the end of October. British Airways (BA) and Qatar Airways (QR) have also made similar announcements.
Air New Zealand’s fleet of eight Boeing 777-200 will be replaced in the intern by the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. NZ currently operates 14 of the -900 variation, with eight of the -10 variation still on order. As airlines look to maximize limited revenue, larger aircraft like the Boeing 777 will fall victim to the Dreamliner, which is proven the most fuel-efficient wide-body aircraft on the market.
Featured Image: A NZ Boeing 777-200ER, registered ZK-OKD, which will be placed into storage. PHOTO: Biponacci/Wikimedia