Reprise for Air New Zealand’s 747s as retirement postponed until 2014

Air NZ 744 ZK-SUH.jpgAir New Zealand’s Boeing 747-400 fleet is getting a stay of execution thanks to a fresh delay to the 787-9.

The 747 fleet was due to be retired by the end of next year but will now remain in service until the carrier’s first 787-9 is delivered sometime in 2014, chief financial officer Rob McDonald said.

Air NZ will keep an unspecified number of its current five 747-400s, as well as 767-300ERs.

While ANZ would prefer to retire both types, McDonald said keeping the 767 is more ideal. “Our 767 fleet is very sound and relatively low-cost and performs its mission really well.”

In comparison to ANZ’s 777-300ER, McDonald said the 747 uses 30% more fuel to carry approximately the same number of passengers but 40% less cargo.

Despite that, McDonald is adamant keeping the 747s and 767s is appropriate.

“It’s better to do that and wait for the 787 than get a lot more aircraft that aren’t as suitable as the 787s,” he said. “You might get an early lead for a couple of years but you might not have the right plane in 20 years.”

Read more here on Air New Zealand’s growth strategy and mitigation plans for 787 delays.

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