Air New Zealand has been forced to charter aircraft from European carrier Hi Fly because of problems with the Rolls-Royce engines on its Boeing 787-9s.
The Kiwii airline said it had chartered an Airbus A330 and an A340 from Hi Fly to operate Auckland-Sydney and Auckland-Perth services over the busy Christmas people.
It has seen forced to ground three of its 787s due to a worldwide shortage of Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines.
The grounding comes after the airline had two engine events forcing turn backs over two days where the engines shed turbine blades
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The planes, which will be operated by Hi Fly crew under AirNZ supervision, are expected to begin operating some services on the routes next week.
Air New Zealand general manager customer Experience Anita Hawthorne said the airline was working hard to minimise the impact on customers caused by unscheduled Rolls-Royce engine maintenance on the engines.
“Unfortunately, around 4,500 customers have been affected by international flight delays and a small number of cancellations over the past week. Once these two additional aircraft are in service we will be able to operate a near normal timetable,” Ms Hawthorne said.
“We are acutely mindful of how important travel is to so many of our customers at this time of year and we are committed to ensuring we connect people with family, friends and the experiences they are looking forward to. Equally, it is a critical time of year for our cargo customers, so giving them certainty to be able to continue to move goods internationally is important.”
Passengers travelling on the leased aircraft will notice some difference in product and service style, Ms Hawthorne said, but using the Hi Fly pilots and cabin crew meant the aircraft could be used sooner.
“ This was a much quicker path to get the aircraft into our network than going through a lengthy certification and training programme for our own people, who are not trained to operate the Airbus widebody aircraft,’’ she said.
“Air New Zealand’s union partners have been extremely understanding of this situation and share our commitment to take the necessary steps to maintain the flight schedule over this important Christmas and summer period. We thank them for their support.”