Airline kicks off talks to replace 767s and returns to court with Qantas in bid to revive proposed partnership

Air New Zealand (ANZ) is beginning negotiations this month with Airbus and Boeing for the purchase of seven new widebodies. Industry sources say Airbus is offering its A330-200 and A340-300 and Boeing its 777-200ER.

The manufacturers submitted their bids in early January following a request for proposals for an unspecified number of Boeing 767 replacements, calling for deliveries from 2006. At the end of April, ANZ's board approved management's request to negotiate a seven-aircraft deal. Talks are expected to begin in mid-May and conclude next month. Lessors will be brought in later.

ANZ operates 12 767s - three -200ERs and nine -300ERs. Five are being replaced by smaller Airbus A320s as part of an effort to increase frequencies while reducing aircraft gauge on trans-Tasman routes. The seven 767s to be replaced by A330s, A340s or 777s operate to Asia and the South Pacific.

The winner could gain an upper hand in a future competition to replace ANZ's eight 747-400s. It began evaluating potential 747-400 replacements, including the 777-300ER and A340-600, last year, but has since decided to keep its 747s for at least several more years and will upgrade their interiors this year.

ANZ and Qantas are back in court, fighting again for approval for their proposed partnership that was rejected by Australian and New Zealand competition authorities last year. The partners' action in Australia is expected to continue through to late May, with the New Zealand High Court appeal process to start in July. The airlines argue that the competitive scene has changed considerably since their alliance was rejected, with Virgin Blue subsidiary Pacific Blue and Emirates launching services across the Tasman. The alliance had been rejected due to its expected anti-competitiveness, particularly on those routes.



Source: Flight International