Air NZ Wanters Larger Boeing 787s

Air New Zealand is swapping its order for four of the revolutionary Boeing 787-8 for the larger and longer-distance 787-9 model.

The airline will be the launch customer for the 787-9 series and will take delivery of the first aircraft in December 2010.

General manager of international airlines Ed Sims said the larger 787 with 280 seats, up to 50 more than the -8, would be more efficient on proposed non-stop long-haul routes to Beijing, Vancouver, Buenos Aires and Mumbai.

The airline was still considering introducing the 787-8 in 2009 in the meantime.

The 787 is the first commercial airliner to feature a carbon fibre fuselage and replaces the medium-sized wide-body 767 range.

It will be up to 20 per cent more fuel-efficient and carry up to 50 per cent more cargo.

Air New Zealand was also considering adding another large-capacity jet late next year which could include a Boeing 777-300ER or the latest version of the classic jumbo jet, the Boeing 747-8, which was under development, Mr Sims said.

"We are certainly not going to wait till we introduce the 787-9 to look to add new routes."

However, the future price of fuel would be a factor, he said.

Meanwhile, the cabins of the remaining five Boeing 767-300ERs were being given a facelift rather than being refitted with the new long-haul seats and entertainment system.

The aircraft would leave the fleet in four years, which did not give enough time to recoup the cost of a full refit, he said.

The aircraft would be used on Los Angeles services that made Pacific island stops and some trans-Tasman routes.


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