Air New Zealand has signed a letter of intent to purchase eight Boeing 787-10s with options for a further 12 aircraft.
The airline said on Monday the first 787-10 would be arrive in late 2022, with deliveries to run through to 2027.
The aircraft will replace Air New Zealand’s fleet of eight Boeing 777-200ERs, which will be withdrawn by 2025.
Air New Zealand currently operates 13 787-9s – with a 14th due later in 2019 – powered by Rolls-Royce Trent engines.
However, the airline has chosen the GEnx-1B powerplants for the 787-10.
Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said the largest variant of the 787 family of aircraft would offer 15 per cent more space for passengers and cargo and would open up new opportunities for growth.
“The game changer for us has been that by working closely with Boeing, we’ve ensured the 787-10 will meet our network needs, including the ability to fly missions similar to our current 777-200 fleet,” Luxon said in a statement.
Air New Zealand said the order with Boeing and GE included substitution rights that allowed the airline to switch from the larger 787-10 aircraft to smaller 787-9s, or take a combination of the two models, for future fleet and network flexibility.
Further, it said the delivery schedule could be delayed or accelerated according to market demand.
Boeing vice president of commercial sales and marketing for Asia Pacific Christy Reese said: “This is a bold decision by the airline and will help carry forward the ambitions of Air New Zealand for many years to come.”
GE Aviation vice president of global sales and marketing Jason Tonich said: “The GEnx engine is the leading engine of choice on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with world-class utilisation, reliability and fuel efficiency that will benefit Air New Zealand and its customers.”
— Boeing Australia (@BoeingAustralia) May 26, 2019
Air New Zealand had been evaluating the 787, 777X and Airbus A350 for the replacement of its 777-200ER fleet since 2018.
The eight 777-200ERs are configured with 312 seats, comprising 26 in business in a 1-2-1 layout with direct aisle access for every passenger, 40 in premium economy at eight abreast and 246 in economy at 10 across.
The aircraft, which are mainly used on long-haul services to the Americas and Asia, as well as select trans-Tasman routes, were delivered between 2006 and 2007, making them between 12 and 13 years of age.
The largest Air New Zealand widebody is the 777-300ER, of which the airline has seven. These aircraft have 342 seats (44 business, 54 premium economy and 244 economy).
The third widebody in the fleet is the 787-9, which comes in two configurations. The first configuration has 302 seats, again in three classes, while a second configuration has 275 seats due to a higher proportion of business and premium economy seats.
The Boeing website lists the 787-10 as having 6,430nm of range with 330 passengers in a two-class configuration, while the 787-9 has 7,635nm of range with 290 passengers, again in a two-class layout.
Meanwhile, the 777-200ER is listed with a range of 7,065nm with 313 passengers in two classes.
Air New Zealand chief strategy, networks and alliances officer Nick Judd said in June 2018 the airline was also working on having an aircraft capable of nonstop flights from Auckland to New York and other points in the Americas.
“We want to try and get to New York, we want to get deeper into South America and so we’re very interested in the shape of these ULR ultra long range aircraft that are coming out,” Judd said at the time.
VIDEO: An Air New Zealand-produced video of chief executive Christopher Luxon and chief operational integrity and standards officer Captain David Morgan discussing the airline’s decision to order the Boeing 787-10.