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Air NZ defers A320 deliveries as it slows growth outlook

Air New Zealand is pushing back deliveries of four Airbus A320neo family jets as it dials back its planned capacity growth over the next three years.

Three A321neos that were due for delivery in the year from 1 July 2020 and allocated to its domestic network deferred by one year. One A320neo, also due in in the 2020 fiscal year, will now be pushed back to fiscal 2022.

Two other A321neos that are due for delivery in the 2024 fiscal year have been unchanged, as is its plan to take a 787-9 leased from Air Lease this October.

The Star Alliance carrier is still planning to announce which aircraft will replace its eight 777-200ERs by the end of June, but has flagged that two of those aircraft that were planned for delivery in FY2023 will be pushed back by four years.

Air New Zealand will still announce a replacement for its 777-200ERs (pictured) by mid-year

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Edward Russel

The airline tells FlightGlobal that the first of the new widebodies, which are likely to be either of mix of 777Xs and 787s or A350s, will still be delivered in fiscal 2023, but the timing of those deliveries will now stretch out to 2027-28.

The deferrals will reduce capital expenditure on aircraft over the next few years by NZ$750 million ($510 million), the airline states in a business update, which followed a review that was flagged when it released its interim financial results in February.

“The steps we are taking today will provide a strong foundation for future earnings growth,” says chief executive Christopher Luxon. “We are deferring aircraft deliveries and related capital expenditures, adjusting our capacity growth plans and driving sustainable efficiencies throughout our cost base to better reflect the slower demand growth we are seeing in the market.”

Over the next three years, the carrier’s planned annual capacity growth will be between 3% and 5%, down from the 5-7% range previously flagged.

Nonetheless, it will launch a new Auckland-Seoul Incheon service, operating up to five-times a week from November. At that time, it will also increase frequencies on its Taipei service to up to five-times weekly, with Chicago to go to the same frequency in December.

“We continue to see exciting growth opportunities that enhance our Pacific Rim strategy, including entering new markets such as Seoul,” says Luxon.

From late October, the carrier will also amend the timing of its Hong Kong service, which will free up one aircraft.

Air NZ has also flagged that it will fit an enhanced version of its business class seat to the widebody fleet from the end of 2019, while a more spacious economy seat will enter service on long-haul services by mid-2020.

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