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Air New Zealand will add eight new Boeing 787-10 aircraft to its fleet, which make it possible for the carrier to fly non-stop from New Zealand to New York while trying to attract more high-end tourists to the country.
The airline’s chief executive Christopher Luxon said the new aircraft order was a "hugely important decision” for the carrier, with the first of the jets to arrive in late 2022.
Air New Zealand has ordered eight new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners, which will be able to fly from Auckland to New York non-stop. CREDIT:AP
The new aircraft, which will replace eight aging 777-200s, have a list value of $US2.7 billion ($3.9 billion), but airlines usually negotiate significant discounts and the final price tag is confidential.
The 787-10 Dreamliners have about 15 per cent more space for passengers and cargo than Air New Zealand's 13 existing 787-9s, which can carry 302 people, and will operate on its long-haul routes around the Pacific Rim including to Australia, Asia, South American and the US.
Announcing the order in Auckland on Monday, Mr Luxon said Air New Zealand would look at reconfiguring all its Dreamliners in 2022 with a view to include more premium and business seats.
Carrying fewer passengers would mean the jet could carry more fuel, allowing them to fly non-stop flight from New Zealand to New York if there was demand for that route, Mr Luxon said.
Qantas uses a 787-9 to fly non-stop from Perth to London non-stop, but is looking at the larger Boeing 777X and Airbus A350 for non-stop flights to London and New York from Australia’s east coast from 2022.
Mr Luxon said gearing its planes towards premium seats aligns with both the airline and the New Zealand government's strategies to attract wealthier tourists to the country.
“We are all quite united in this drive for value over volume", Mr Luxon said.
"We don’t want the joint turning into Cancun or Bali - we need it to turn into Switzerland."
Air New Zealand has seen a slowing inbound tourism market as the global economy cools, and has revised down its expectations for growth over the next three years from between 5 and 7 per cent to between 3 and 5 per cent.
The order sees Boeing emerge over victorious over rival plane maker Airbus, which had pitched its A350 to Air New Zealand in a fierce two-year contest for the contract.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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